Ireland limped to a 1-0 win over Gibraltar at the Victoria Stadium in Mick McCarthy’s first game back in charge of the Boys in Green.
In a game played in very difficult conditions, the home side kept Ireland scoreless in the first half with the howling wind and the artificial pitch causing McCarthy’s side to struggle.
They opened the scoring early in the second half however when Jeff Hendrick met David McGoldrick’s low ball across the box, to complete a free-flowing move from the Boys in Green.
It was far from an inspiring performance from Ireland but it was a win on McCarthy’s return. Let’s take a look at 12 quickfire conclusions from their 1-0 win against Gibraltar.
1) It took Ireland a bit of time to get into this game. The difficult conditions of the Victoria Stadium were quite tough to deal with early for McCarthy’s side.
2) Ireland grew into this one though and were soon on the front foot possession-wise, pressing their opponents whenever they found themselves without the ball.
3) The right-hand side of Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty looked dangerous for Ireland in the first half but you get the feeling that further up the field doesn’t quite suit the Wolves man. It may have to be one or the other going forward.
4) Conor Hourihane was one of the stand-out players in the midfield for Ireland. He was allowed space, yes, but his passing and positioning were excellent. A lot must also be said for his deliveries which caused absolute havoc in the Gibraltar penalty area.
5) It was only a brief scare, but Darren Randolph showed his quality with a fantastic save from a Roy Chipolina header early in the first half. He then pinged a beautiful ball out to James McClean which started the Irish goal. A real asset.
6) The opposition may have been minnows but the goal Ireland scored was a delightful move, finished off by Jeff Hendrick. The Burnley man needs to do more in a green shirt but a goal may be just the thing he needs to kick-on.
7) A player who could also do with a goal for Ireland is Sean Maguire. The Preston man struggled in a game where he would have hoped to score his first goal a international level. He had a few nice touches but arguably should have done more.
8) That being said, it’s difficult to understand the introduction of Harry Arter for Maguire. When a second goal would calm things, bringing on another midfielder was hardly the most creative move from McCarthy.
9) Despite a quiet game it was good to see Robbie Brady back to full fitness in an Irish shirt. When fit and firing he is one of Ireland’s finest assets.
10) It was a victory for Ireland in difficult conditions but there is no doubt that this was a worryingly poor performance from the Boys in Green in McCarthy’s first game back in charge. The goal aside it was uninspiring and limp.
11) The lack of real efforts on target will also worry McCarthy given their struggles in front of goal in 2018 and the lack of quality in defence for Gibraltar.
12) It’s the kind of performance that would worry fans for the Georgian game. Given how well they performed against Switzerland this afternoon and how poor Ireland were, they’ll certainly be feeling that can get a positive result at the Aviva Stadium.