Ireland player ratings as Stephen Kenny’s team suffers defeat against Finland

The Republic of Ireland 0 Finland 1.

Stephen Kenny had his first home match as Ireland manager on Sunday afternoon and suffered a disappointing defeat.

Ireland had more of the ball and were proactive throughout. However, Kenny’s team failed to create much and were caught out by a second-half Finland goal from Fredrik Jensen, who had been on the pitch just 18 seconds.

Here is how we rated the Ireland players from the Uefa Nations League tie.

Ireland player ratings:

Darren Randolph – 7

The West Ham United goalkeeper is no longer first-choice at club level but has been Ireland’s most dependable player over the last few years.

Randolph showed that once again against Finland. The Bray-native kept the game goalless in the first half with a brilliant one-on-one save from Teemu Pukki.

Randolph’s leadership qualities were also important to Ireland. The goalkeeper was the most vocal player on the pitch and could be heard bellowing useful instructions to his teammates throughout.

Matt Doherty – 5

Kenny opted once again for Doherty ahead of team captain Seamus Coleman. And, once again, Doherty had a slow start. The new Tottenham defender was one of the more quiet players on the pitch and was barely involved in the first-half. Improved slightly after the break, but it looks as though he may be more suited to playing as a wing-back rather than at full-back.

Shane Duffy – 5

Duffy’s performance against Bulgaria generated more talking points than any other Ireland player. He remains arguably Ireland’s best chance of scoring a goal at the moment.

However, Duffy will need a lot of time to adjust to Kenny’s more proactive style of football and become comfortable with the high-line. That was evident against Finland. He was caught out for the goal and for an earlier Finland chance.

His performance in the game was arguably better than it was against Bulgaria. But that lapse in concentration cost the team.

John Egan – 5

Egan was comfortable in possession and never got flustered. Like the rest of the back four, he was all at sea for the Finland goal, however.

Enda Stevens – 5

Stevens linked up well with Brady and sought to get forward whenever possible. He arguably could have done better for Finland’s goal, however.

Harry Arter – 6

Arter replaced James McCarthy in the starting line-up and tasked him with shielding Ireland’s defence. The Fulham midfielder was vocal and always presented himself for a pass.

In the first half at least, his passes often went backwards or sideways. And once or twice he failed to cover the space in front of Ireland’s defence.

He improved after the break and was constantly involved and looking for the ball or snapping into challenges.

However, he does not seem a natural fit for the central defensive midfield position and there were often large gaps behind him.

Jayson Molumby – 5

Molumby made his debut for Ireland after impressing under Stephen Kenny with the under-21s.

The Brighton midfielder, who spent last season on loan with Millwall, was not overawed by the occasion. Molumby demanded the ball from his teammates and showed some flashes of quality.

He still has a long way to go, however, and he struggled to impose himself on the game as he has done for the Ireland under-21s.

Robbie Brady – 6

Brady helped Ireland rescue a point against Bulgaria on Thursday night with a pinpoint delivery and fully warranted a start against Finland. The Dubliner, who has predominately played as a winger for Burnley, was given an advanced central midfield role and tasked with creating openings for Ireland’s front three.

Brady started brightly and looked sharp. He linked well with Stevens and always sought to play a positive pass. Brady’s deliveries into the ball looked to be Ireland’s best chance of opening the scoring.

He offered more to the Ireland team than either of Hendrick or Hourihane, but faded as the match went on.

Callum O’Dowda – 5

O’Dowda was a surprise inclusion in the team against Bulgaria, but he showed just why Kenny opted for him. O’Dowda has the skill, speed and quickness of thought to trouble defences. He is comfortable taking possession in tight spaces and draws opposition players to him, creating space for others.

He made several potentially dangerous runs beyond the Finland backline which could have led to something if his teammates were playing with O’Dowda on a more regular basis and recognised the runs.

In the first half, the Bristol City winger also created a potential goal-scoring chance with a wonderful cut back into the box.

He faded after the break before being substituted with around an hour gone.

Aaron Connolly – 6

Connolly, who plays through the middle for Brighton as a central striker, didn’t look a natural fit on the left-wing for Ireland. However, Kenny was right to opt for him as the Galway-native has the speed and finishing ability to win a game.

After a quiet first half, Connolly was more involved after the break. The Brighton forward had Ireland’s first shot on goal, but could only find the side netting, and managed to win some free-kicks by forcing the Finnish defenders into challenges.

Connolly was much more dangerous when he floated into central positions and linked up with Idah or brought the ball onto his right-foot to shoot.

Adam Idah – 6

Idah impressed in spells against Bulgaria on Thursday and deserved his chance to add a second senior cap against Finland.

The Norwich forward can hold the ball up, drop deep to link play and has the pace to get away from most defenders. At times on Sunday though, he looked like a work in progress – which is what he is.

Idah held the ball up when it came to him and helped Ireland get up the pitch. He also made some interesting runs that weren’t picked up by his teammates – he may need to become more vocal and demand the ball more.

He did, however, free Connolly to have a shot on goal with a clever touch. Like Connolly, when he develops and matures and fuses all aspects of his game together, he could be a formidable player.

Substitutes

Callum Robinson – 7 

The forward made an instant impact off the bench. He had a shot, delivered a wonderful cross to the back post for Connolly to attack and created a chance for McGoldrick out of nothing.

David McGoldrick – 6

Fluffed his lines when the ball landed to him in the penalty area, but should be restored to the team next month if fit.

James McClean – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.

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