Ireland were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw against Georgia in Tbilisi as they missed a huge chance to take control in the group.
McCarthy’s side were poor throughout and looked void of creativity as they put in one of the worst Irish performances in recent memory.
Here are five definitive conclusions as Ireland limped to a scoreless draw against Georgia.
1) The Under-21s Would Have Done A Better Job Against This Georgian Side
This game in Tbilisi was one of the worst Irish displays in recent memory, and that includes two slogs against Gibraltar.
Ireland were sloppy and nervous at times in possession and created little or nothing going forward, with the disconnect between the defence and the midfield and subsequently the midfield and the attack looking frightening.
Comparing this to Stephen Kenny’s Under-21 side against Italy on Thursday night, it’s hard to believe that the two teams are playing the same sport.
Kenny’s kids were vibrant and comfortable in possession to an extent that the senior side could only dream of, with each player knowing their roles and performing them perfectly.
The Georgian’s made it difficult but in front of a half-empty stadium in the afternoon sunshine on a relatively decent pitch is hardly a cauldron of hostility.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to say that our Under-21 side would have beaten Georgia, the team ranked 91st in the world.
2) This Game Highlighted How Crucial David McGoldrick Is To Ireland
James Collins was criticised for his performance in Tbilisi and perhaps rightly so at times, but the Luton Town striker wasn’t helped at all by his midfielders.
The beauty of David McGoldrick is that his ability on the ball and seamless transition between playing in between the lines and as the number nine, hides Ireland’s flaws at times.
His work-rate is brilliant and ability to hold the ball-up does so so much for his teammates throughout a game, something Collins simply couldn’t replicate.
It’s unlikely that he starts against Switzerland given his fitness issues, which will be another blow, but Ireland will have to seriously change something going forward if they have a chance of getting a result.
Connolly looked sharp when he came on but it was much too little and far too late. They missed McGoldrick in a big way.
3) Matt Doherty Once Again Didn’t Look Comfortable In Green
Doherty was given the nod at left-back against Georgia, a position he once won the Wolves player of the year award in – watching this game though, that’s difficult to believe.
From the off, he never looked comfortable, with the Georgians getting in behind him on a couple of occasions in the first-half and actively targeting his side in the second.
Going forward, the Wolves man showed none of the endeavour and attacking ability he has become renowned for at club level, instead he struggled to link up at all with James McClean.
He has failed to ever really settle in the Irish side under either Martin O’Neill or Mick McCarthy and today’s game was no different.
4) Ireland Were Crying Out For Jack Byrne, Yet He Somehow Never Came On
It was all well and good bringing on Aaron Connolly for his Irish debut, it should have been much much earlier, but there was little point in doing it given the issues in midfield.
Throughout the game the Boys in Green were crying out for someone in the midfield to get on the ball and make something happen where the likes of Hendrick and Hourihane struggled.
There was a disconnect between the midfield three and the attacking three and Ireland were desperate for some creativity to be the link between the lines.
Given how Jack Byrne changed the game when he came on against Bulgaria, it was incredible that McCarthy never thought to bring him into the game.
Byrne excels with the ball at his feet and crucially is always looking to make space and find a pass – something no Irish player did in Tbilisi.
5) This Result Has Been Coming, And Probably Could’ve Been Worse
To be cynical about it, Ireland at times have been blessed under Mick McCarthy so far in this European Qualifying group.
Had Darren Randolph not been alert, it could’ve been disastrous against Gibraltar away, and had it not been for two late goals against Switzerland and Denmark, Ireland would be out of contention already.
In the games against Switzerland and Denmark especially, McCarthy’s men were outplayed with both sides having their fair share of chances to win the game and had their strikers been more clinical it could’ve been much different.
Georgia dominated possession in Tbilisi and had a couple of early chances, that on another day they so easily could have put away.
Ireland have rode their luck for a long time under McCarthy and this afternoon’s display was the first real sign that their luck may be starting to run out.