Ireland limped to a 2-0 win over Group D minnows Gibraltar thanks to a first-half own goal and a late Robbie Brady header as the Boys in Green kept their unbeaten start to the Euro 2020 campaign intact.
McCarthy’s side dominated the visitors but struggled to break them down at times with their opening goal coming after David McGoldrick’s first-half strike took a massive deflection off defender Joseph Chipolina and found the back of the net.
From there Gibraltar never looked like equalising but Ireland struggled in attempting to extend their lead with clear cut chances proving difficult to come by against the 195th ranked team in the world, before Robbie Brady added a second late on.
It is though, a case of job done for McCarthy as Ireland go into the tough games in September and October against Switzerland and Georgia with 10 points from a possible 12.
Here are 12 quickfire conclusions as Ireland labour to a 2-0 win over Gibraltar.
1) It was evident from the start that despite appearing to line out as a 4-4-2, Ireland would operating more on a 4-4-1-1 basis with David McGoldrick dropping in behind Scott Hogan to act as the link between the attack and the midfield. A position that he occupied quite frequently at Sheffield United last season.
2) It was a difficult opening 20 minutes for the Boys in Green. They knocked the ball about nicely at the back but bar an early Duffy header struggled to make too many clear cut chances and break down their opponents, with the wide players of McClean and Robinson coming in-field more and more to try and influence proceedings.
3) Even the ever-reliable Shane Duffy didn’t quite look himself in the opening period, as he was sloppy in possession as Ireland struggled.
4) The goal was timely when it did arrive and it briefly absolutely opened the game up for Ireland. It ended up going down as an own goal but it was some good work from David McGoldrick who has done more than enough to deserve his first goal for the Boys in Green.
5) There are however still passengers in this Irish side with Jeff Hendrick struggling to have any influence on the game. It’s been a while since the Burnley man has really stood up and impressed in a green jersey.
6) James McClean was another who struggled on the night. He wasn’t at his best against Denmark and couldn’t find any sort of link-up play with Enda Stevens on the Irish left.
7) Glimpses of promise though on the other side with Seamus Coleman having a promising game with Callum Robinson in front of him. They seemed to understand each other’s game and Robinson coming inside often meant that the Irish captain had a lot of space to run into.
8) 4-4-2 or 4-1-1 whatever you want to call it just doesn’t work for this team. That’s twice McCarthy has tried it against Gibraltar and it’s been the two worst performances of his second spell in charge.
9) There’s the argument that you don’t need a holder against a team as poor on paper as Gibraltar but with just Hourihane and Hendrick in the middle, Ireland were caught out at times and against a side with more quality they would have been duly punished.
10) Difficult not to feel sorry for Scott Hogan but again it was another case of an Irish striker having an off night. The Aston Villa man was caught offside frequently and looked as though he was lacking confidence with his only shot on target coming just after he was taken off.
11) David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson played quite well, Robinson in particular, but again it’s a case of Irish strikers struggling to find the net. It has now been nine games since a frontman in green scored for Ireland.
12) It wasn’t pretty and McCarthy warned it wouldn’t be but it’s a case of job done for the Boys in Green as they go into the tough away games in September and October against Switzerland and Georgia. There will however have to be drastic improvements between now and then, especially up top.