Ireland drew 0-0 with Wales at the Aviva Stadium in their UEFA Nations League clash as they continued to struggle in front of goal under Stephen Kenny.
Here are five definitive conclusions from the scoreless draw.
1) Ireland could have done with a spark in the final third against Wales, and it was surprise that Jack Byrne wasn’t given a chance
It’s only four games for Stephen Kenny and there’s no doubt there’s been positives but Ireland’s inability to find the net is becoming an ever more worrying problem.
They didn’t create as many chances as they did against Slovakia, but there were a couple of efforts – Shane Long’s header springs to mind – where Ireland really should have done better.
There are issues beyond their control, you get the feeling Aaron Connolly could have made a difference along with McGoldrick and Adam Idah but something needs to change going forward for Ireland to address their goalscoring problems.
A natural number ten you’d imagine would make a difference given how the midfield against Wales lacked creativity.
Jack Byrne was named in Kenny’s squad but didn’t feature over the two games but you get the feeling in a stalemate like this at the Aviva he could have made a difference.
There was a spark needed between the lines and it was a surprise not to see Byrne at least given some game time.
Defensively the struggles from Bulgaria and Finland appear to be gone, but Ireland will continue to struggle unless they start scoring goals.
2) Shane Duffy looks much more confident in possession
Duffy has long been one of Ireland’s top performers, especially under Mick McCarthy, however on the ball in Stephen Kenny’s first two games he appeared to struggle.
Questions arose as to whether or not the 28-year-old would be able to fit the style Kenny requires however the last two games have been much more encouraging from Duffy.
He appears much more comfortable and confident in possession, finding passes and crucially looking for the ball, as opposed to shying away from it.
Against Slovakia he was outstanding and against Wales, he again proved crucial and it looks as though his form at Celtic has transferred across to the international scene.
Gaining experience in a team that dominates possession and games has done him the world of good, and looks to have erased the doubts over his role in a Stephen Kenny side.
3) Jayson Molumby has already shown he is comfortable at this level
Given how Molumby has stepped up to every challenge he’s been presented with in his career so far, it should come as no surprise to see him adapt comfortably to international football.
In his first start against Finland he performed well, however against Wales he was one of Ireland’s stand-outs, putting in the kind of impressive and energetic display he has become synonymous with.
Molumby worked hard to pick the ball up from his defenders and was generally positive in position in what was a challenging game for both sets of midfielders.
Stephen Kenny has long been a fan of the former Irish U21 captain and it’s clear to see why he’ll be integral part of his plans going forward.
4) He may not be prolific, but this game showed just how much Ireland need David McGoldrick
Ireland wasted their chances against Slovakia, but once again David McGoldrick put in an excellent display and his influence was missing from Sunday’s game.
Shane Long played instead of McGoldrick and was largely anonymous however the Southampton man could probably have done with more support from his midfield in an ideal world.
McGoldrick isn’t a prolific striker but he brings so much more to Ireland and his steady influence and link-up play was sorely missed in a game that was certainly there for the taking.
Perhaps the Sheffield United man could be better suited to having someone alongside him or even playing in a ten off a more natural number nine but whenever McGoldrick isn’t there, Ireland always miss him.
5) Matt Doherty is a very good centre-half
It wasn’t the ideal scenario for Ireland when they found themselves having to take Kevin Long off and stick Matt Doherty at centre-back, but in the end it worked out quite well.
Doherty has always been lauded for his ability going forward and perhaps rightly so, but against Wales he put in his best defensive display in an Irish shirt.
Up against the extremely difficult challenge of the robust Kieffer Moore, Doherty, with the help of Duffy, put in an assured display at centre-half and limited Wales to very few chances.
Doherty was also excellent as expected in possession and finding his midfielders with passes to begin an Irish phase of play.
It’s unlikely that he’ll continue in the position, however it will likely do his confidence the world of good.