Jeff Hendrick is back to scoring goals and looks to be enjoying life under Mick McCarthy.
Hendrick spared Irish blushes as his goal proved the difference in Gibraltar on an evening that will be remembered for events off the field.
The corporate reshuffle at the FAI’s top table dominated most of the headlines, but Hendrick’s goal, the first of the McCarthy 2.0 era, could prove to be a vital milestone come the end of this qualification campaign.
“The manager and TC were telling me during the week that I wasn’t scoring enough goals and it was something I worked on. Maybe it was imprinted on my mind heading into the game.
“We didn’t score enough goals recently. We’ve been told to get in the box and score more.”
Hendrick, who has struggled for Irish form of late, finished expertly after a glistening team move on a windy Gibraltar surface. Hendrick cupped his ear to the crowd after scoring his goal, much to the confusion of the crowd, but was quick to dispel rumours that it was geared towards the travelling Irish fans.
“It was just spur of the moment.”
When asked by Pundit Arena if it was a playful gesture towards Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor about his goalscoring, Hendrick was quick to laugh it off.
“It was just something for the lads. Towards the big empty stand. Mick was behind me. Maybe if you were standing on the runway you would have seen it.” Hendrick joked.
Ireland were restricted to just four shots on target at Gibraltar, despite the home team conceding ten goals in the two games previous, but Hendrick was quick to point to the conditions as a factor contributing to the
nonperformance of the Irish team.
“(The astrotruf pitch) was tough, it was different to what we’re used to. You can’t really zip the ball around it. It can be more difficult, but both teams were playing on it.
The more difficult thing was the wind. First half, I thought we were playing into the wind and the second half I thought it was more of the same. It was whirling.”
Georgia will prove difficult opposition for Ireland,
“It’s difficult playing against a team that nothing to lose. When we play them we’re built up as a team that should win. We just need to focus on our gameplan.”
Ireland host Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night.