Former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle was one of the many onlookers impressed by Mick McCarthy’s side’s victory against Georgia in their opening home game of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Ireland safely negotiated the tricky task of familiar foes Georgia, defeating them by 1-0 but looking much improved in McCarthy’s return to Landsdowne Road.
The win was their second in the space of a week after they had overcome minnows Gibraltar in difficult conditions in their Group D opener just a few days earlier.
Speaking at the launch of the Aviva Stadium Tour on Monday, Doyle began by outlining how big a victory the one over Gibraltar was, given the testing conditions.
“That first game, I was being interviewed about it beforehand, you just think: ‘Gibraltar. Grand.’ [Mick McCarthy’s] first game, only four days together, that pitch and environment you know, I wasn’t there but I was told about the conditions, the wind.
“It’s all a leveller, I know it sounds like excuses but it is. [Gibraltar] were well organised, they had a good Nations League.
“Just to get out of that with a win was big I think. I spoke to him the next day, I was at training with the under-17s, we were beside them. Mick looked shook!
“He was just saying like ‘if we hadn’t have won that game it would have been one of the worst results in Irish history’.”
The manner in which Ireland defeated one of the lowest ranked teams in the world caused understandable worry amongst fans, however the win against Georgia a few days later was a massive boost.
Doyle outlined that the victory, but more so the level of performance from McCarthy’s side, was hugely impressive and outlined the managerial qualities that his former Wolves boss possess.
“To come here (Dublin) and put in a good performance, I know there was only a goal in it, but the manner of the performance, the stats, different things – we had 50/50 possession! I spoke to people who wouldn’t watch a whole lot of soccer, but watch Ireland internationals.
“I’d get it in the ear off all of them usually but they were like ‘Jesus Ireland were really good last night.’ Just to hear that, which I hadn’t heard in a number of years, it’s positive. Mick is very good. He’s good at getting people onside, and he doesn’t bullshit.
“Even about the Coleman and Matt Doherty debate, he was like ‘yeah it didn’t work’. There’s no trying to gloss over stuff. Players like playing for him and, listen, he’s had as good a start as he could have.”
“It won’t be easy in Denmark. I don’t like that game in June, I never did. Players are on holiday for a few weeks, then you’re back in, you’re switched off from your club season, had a few weeks off, but you’re back in and trying to get everyone right, it’s very difficult. It’s a silly fixture – but it has to be done.”
Irish football international Kevin Doyle today launched the new Aviva Stadium Tour which provides fans with a unique behind the scenes experience of Ireland’s primary international sports’ Stadium. Visitors to the new tour can delve into Ireland’s international sporting heritage while also experiencing first-hand what match day is like for our international football and rugby players.