Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny still awaits the first win of his fledgling senior international career following the bitter disappointment of a one nil Nations League defeat by Wales in Cardiff this Sunday afternoon with the winning goal coming on 66 minutes. The litany of events surrounding the Covid-19 situation, which continued in this international window, is a significant factor in this run of seven matches without a victory and scoring just one goal.
This afternoon’s contest again offered certain rays of promise but putting the ball in the net remains a forlorn target. Ireland were the dominant team throughout the opening half without creating any clear cut chances. There were a couple of efforts from Robbie Brady who showed glimpses of quality from a central midfield position but his later move to a wider area proved less fruitful.
The back four looked reasonably solid with Kevin Long showing the benefit of his recent series of first team matches at club level. Shane Duffy was in better form but is still some way from his best. Much the same can be said of Matt Doherty whose excellent club form last season came from a more advanced wing back position. He seems less at home in the traditional full back role and this evening, unusually, made no inroads in forward positions. Dara O’Shea showed his versatility in the left back position and while very inexperienced offers much promise of better things to come.
The other young duo, Adam Idah and Jayson Molumby offer hope for the future but their inexperience is still evident and it will require time and patience for them to make the necessary improvements. Jeff Hendrick, again playing the holding midfield role, was disappointing this afternoon culminating in his dismissal in added time which rules him out of Wednesday’s crucial meeting with Bulgaria. Molumby also received a yellow card, his second of this Nations League, which also rules him out on Wednesday. Daryl Horgan started quite brightly but again, as on Thursday, faded quite significantly and was replaced on 59 minutes by teenager Jason Knight who looked quite promising although his inexperience rendered him culpable in the concession of the Welsh goal.
James McClean gave a typical energetic performance but not quite at his historic level. There were late substitute appearances for Conor Hourihane, James Collins, Jack Byrne and Callum O’Dowda but little opportunity to make any significant impact although Collins did provide a more physical presence which may see him receive a starting role against Bulgaria on Wednesday evening.
Team: D Randolph; M Doherty, S Duffy, K Long, D O’Shea; J Molumby, J Hendrick, R Brady; D Horgan, A Idah, J McClean
J Knight for Horgan 59′
J Collins for Idah 75′
C Hourihane for Molumby 75′
J Byrne for Brady 81′
C O’Dowda for O’Shea 81′