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Deep Dive: Sleek & Stylish McGoldrick Focal Point In Free-Flowing Ireland

Before Saturday’s game against Gibraltar, it had been 18 months since David McGoldrick last appeared in the green of Ireland.

A mixture of injuries and a lack of form meant that McGoldrick found himself far from the international setup during the last year of Martin O’Neill’s tenure.

Back fit and firing for his club Sheffield United in the Championship, McGoldrick showed Irish fans just what they were missing with his outstanding display against Georgia on Tuesday night.

Playing as the lone striker in a 4-3-3, McGoldrick worked tirelessly delivering a textbook performance in a position further up than he is used to playing in.

He held the ball up well, linked play, made outstanding runs-in behind and showed his cuteness and knowledge of the position as Ireland ran out 1-0 winners.

In this edition of Deep Dive, we take a closer look at McGoldrick’s excellent performance from Tuesday night.


A Simple But Effective Start

The fear going into this game was that playing centrally in a 4-3-3 instead of off a pure number nine, as he is used to, McGoldrick might struggle.

Under O’Neill lone strikers often found themselves isolated up top with little or no support, balls often struggling to stick to their feet.

The Sheffield United man showed early that with him this wouldn’t be the case

In the eighth minute of the game, McGoldrick found himself under a long ball in the out wide. Instantly he had it under his spell and got his head up to find an onrushing midfielder in Jeff Hendrick who worked well to support the striker.

As you can see below the move results in a half chance.

– Credit RTÉ

This was tremendous centre-forward play from McGoldrick and set the tone for his endeavour in the 81 minutes he featured.

Throughout the first half, he continued in this vein growing into the game and doing the basics right, his hold up play and work rate helped his midfielders so much.

Again, in the below clip he came deep to affect the play, knowing he would have runners from midfield breaking in ahead of him. He worked hard to win the ball back and make a pass. Tremendous work

– Credit: Virgin Media Sport


A Touch Of Class

He also has a hand in the goal, a beautiful bit of play on the edge of the area, allowed him to turn the defender who had no choice but to foul the Sheffield United man.

The move was intelligent from the front man who realised he is goal side of the defender and delicately touched it by him. A moment of class.

– Credit: RTÉ


Elite Movement

In the second half, McGoldrick again found joy getting involved in the game as opposed to playing like a static target man.

He found room between the midfield and the defence and threaded a nice ball out to Robbie Brady on the right-hand side. The true beauty of this move though was not about what McGoldrick did in possession but out of possession.

If you watch the clip below he hovers around the edge of the area after his pass to Brady. That isn’t laziness, it’s intelligence.

– Credit: RTÉ

With Coleman cutting infield after an initial run from the right, the striker tries to sneak the overlap into the box as the ball makes its way out to Enda Stevens on the left.

You’ll notice below that the defender never even saw him do it.

– Credit: Virgin Media Sport
– Credit: Virgin Media Sport
– Credit: Virgin Media Sport
– Credit: Virgin Media Sport

It’s unfortunate that Hendrick had strayed offside, but that is movement straight out of the top drawer from McGoldrick.

Just a few minutes McGoldrick comes deep again, inside his own half and makes himself available for a pass on the break.

As you can see below he used his strength to turn the defender and found himself with the freedom of the Aviva to run into. The finish left much to be desired but the overall play was very sharp.

– Credit: Virgin Media Sport


Intelligence In Play

If the first half highlighted McGoldrick’s work rate and hold up play, the second continued to be a showcase of his intelligence and nous.

The striker anticipated the bounce of the ball superbly here after a long pass up to him from James McClean and outsmarted his defender only for the heavy touch past the keeper to let him down.

– Credit: RTÉ

McGoldrick’s last contribution was something so trivial yet it highlighted his intelligence in a fantastic way. With 80 minutes gone he found himself, again dropping deep, but in space to receive a ball from Whelan and potentially turn, as highlighted below.

Credit – RTÉ

What McGoldrick did not see and out of the picture above is the onrushing Georgian defender who does well to win the ball up against the striker.

Credit – RTÉ

McGoldrick, aware that the most important thing now is the second ball, makes a dart into space with the defender on his heels and finds himself free to receive a pass yet again.

He isn’t the option Whelan chose, but even late in the game, he showed that he is still thinking one step ahead of the Georgian defenders.

Credit RTÉ


Overall it was a classy display from a classy player with McGoldrick proving that he can indeed be the focal point of the Irish attack while at the same time linking excellently with the midfield.

A stroke of genius from McCarthy to bring him back into the Irish setup.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here