Another tough night for Ireland against Wales.
Ireland suffered a 1-0 defeat against Wales in their UEFA Nations League game as Stephen Kenny’s search for a first win with the Boys in Green continues.
Here are five definitive conclusions from a disappointing night for Ireland in Cardiff.
1) A case of same old same old for the Boys in Green in Stephen Kenny’s reign.
Ireland’s games under Stephen Kenny have started to develop into a very worrying trend. England aside and its been a case of Ireland being much the better side, struggling to find the net, and ultimately paying the price.
The Boys in Green were certainly the better side in the first 45 and were able to create some chances, but their goal drought will continue into another game.
It’s been nine hours since Ireland found the net and they’re yet to score from open play under Stephen Kenny. It’s a case of taking any goal that will come at this stage for Kenny and Ireland.
Adam Idah performed well but he’s still only in the infancy of his international career. James Collins looked lively at times when he came on, but it’s hard to see where the goals will come from in this particular Ireland squad.
Kenny has been desperately unlucky with injuries and players pulling out of the squad since his arrival. He’s not under any real pressure and it’s important to remember that this will take time, but a win and a goal is so desperately needed for Stephen Kenny and Ireland.
2) Shane Duffy has been outstanding for Ireland in the past, but he needs a break.
It’s very difficult not to feel for Shane Duffy. He, like the majority of the Irish back four, was poor for Wales’ goal despite not putting in a bad performance overall.
He is however out of form and far from his usual self for both club and country, in what’s been a hectic start to the season for the Celtic defender.
Perhaps what’s needed for Duffy at this moment in time is a break, when you consider what he has gone through over the past few months, especially in his personal life.
Criticism has been levelled at him from all corners and a lot of it hasn’t been warranted. Duffy has long been one of Ireland’s standout players and could still play a crucial role under Stephen Kenny.
He needs to get back to his best though and regain the confidence that has made him one of Ireland’s strongest players.
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) November 15, 2020
3) Robbie Brady showed glimpses of getting back to his best for Ireland against Wales.
The Burnley man has struggled for fitness and form over the past couple of years and has failed to nail down a starting spot at Turf Moor.
Against Wales, however, Brady was one of Ireland’s brightest sparks and put together plenty of confident touches especially in the first 45 minutes.
Stephen Kenny has spoken in the past of Brady’s quality and there’s no doubting his ability when he’s fit and firing. The same issues plagued Ireland going forward however the Burnley midfielder was at the heart of everything good the Boys in Green created.
He looked very assured in his passing and possession and proved to be an effective addition to an Irish midfield that required an attacking spark.
Kenny will be hoping this game was a glimpse of things to come from Brady in the future.
4) Dara O’Shea’s versatility has been a huge positive from this international break.
Given Ireland’s injury issues and numerous players missing from the squad, Dara O’Shea’s versatility has been a real positive in this international break.
O’Shea performed admirably against England when he was thrown in at centre-back after John Egan’s injury and done a job for Ireland at left-back against Wales.
Going forward, O’Shea isn’t built in the mould of first-choice left-back Enda Stevens but defensively he is solid and it’s reassuring from an Irish perspective to see his ability to play across all areas of the back four.
It’s important to remember that O’Shea is only 21 but given his versatility and quality in a number of areas, it’s likely that the West Brom man will be a mainstay in Irish squads for years to come.
5) Jack Byrne must start against Bulgaria.
It was promising to see Jack Byrne make his competitive debut for Ireland against Wales although it could be argued that he should’ve actually been introduced by Kenny earlier.
The Shamrock Rovers man created two chances in the 7 minutes he was on the field in Cardiff and popped up in some strong positions as Ireland searched for the equaliser.
Ireland will be without both Jayson Molumby and Jeff Hendrick through suspension against Bulgaria on Wednesday night meaning Byrne’s chances of playing will be very high and in truth he deserves it.
He looks the most likely man to aid Ireland’s current goal drought and is arguably the most creative midfielder in the current squad.