Georgia 0-0 Republic of Ireland.
Ireland played out a dour goalless draw with Georgia on Saturday, a result that could greatly harm their chances of qualifying for Euro 2020.
Here is how we rated the Ireland players. Just to note, every player starts with a base score of five out of 10.
Darren Randolph – 5
The Middlesbrough goalkeeper has been a calm presence in the team, and very consistent. But he was barely tested on Saturday afternoon as Georgia’s shooting was poor. His goal-kicks didn’t always find a target.
Seamus Coleman – 5
The Ireland captain had an off-day. Georgia found space behind him and his touch was often heavy.
Shane Duffy – 6
The Brighton defender was an injury doubt last week, and met up late with the squad, but was deemed fit enough to start against Georgia. He was defensively sound, winning his fair share of challenges. He had a chance to win the game with the final touch of the match but saw his header saved.
John Egan – 6
Despite only being brought into the team after Richard Keogh suffered a serious knee injury, Egan’s presence arguably made the defence stronger. The Sheffield United defender has been in excellent form this season, and almost opened the scoring with a header that hit the post in the first half. Defensively solid.
Matt Doherty – 5
Starting in place of the suspended Enda Stevens, Doherty was earning just his eighth cap for Ireland. The Wolves wing-back spoke earlier in the week about enjoying playing on the left as a right-footed player because it allowed him to cut inside on his stronger foot when going forward. He displayed that mid-way through the first half, breaking into the Georgia penalty area, before slightly overrunning the ball. Showed little signs of developing an understanding with McClean ahead of him, but that wasn’t his fault, as few Ireland left-backs have flourished playing with McClean. But, overall, Doherty didn’t look overly comfortable playing at left-back.
Glenn Whelan – 4
On his 89th appearance for Ireland, the 35-year-old struggled. Whelan’s afternoon was summed up when he committed a foul and got booked just outside of the penalty area. The Hearts midfielder was caught badly for pace. Whelan’s passing was often backwards and sideways. He has been a great servant and doesn’t deserve the criticism he has received, but this looked like a game too far for the Dubliner.
Conor Hourihane – 4
Hourihane got the only goal of the game when the teams played in March, and his set-pieces troubled Georgia throughout that game at the Aviva Stadium. He created Ireland’s best chance in the first half, whipping an accurate free-kick towards Egan, who hit the post with a header. Otherwise, he was on the edge of the game and failed to play many penetrative passes. He also faded physically from the match as it went on.
Jeff Hendrick – 4
Hendrick started the season out of the Burnley team but has returned to form for the Premier League side, scoring twice and getting vital goals against Brighton and Everton. He started well against Georgia, showing some nice touches and winning the ball in the final third, but faded from the game.
Callum Robinson – 4
A talented player floundering in a team that doesn’t function or have a defined idea of play and certainly do not play to his strengths. Robinson looked lost but to no real fault of his own. He was substituted for Alan Browne in the second-half.
James McClean – 2
Yes, he works hard, but he wouldn’t have to work half as hard as he does if he didn’t keep losing the ball. McClean offers the team very little. He was frequently out of position, failed to link up with his teammates and struggled to get past his opponents. The Stoke City winger took several heavy touches and didn’t appear to be on the same wavelength as his teammates.
Early in the second half, he had a chance to cross on his stronger left foot with Collins waiting in the penalty area. McClean cut back inside, allowed the full-back to get back into position and hit a wayward cross with his right foot. That summed up his performance. At this point, only the most ardent McClean fans even could attempt to justify his inclusion. He was in the way.
James Collins – 3
Collins scored on his debut for Ireland last month against Bulgaria and was given the nod ahead of Aaron Connolly and Scott Hogan on Saturday afternoon. However, he had no impact on the game. Collins was isolated but offered little in attack. He wasn’t mobile enough to press the Georgians and failed to link up with his teammates. His afternoon was summed by a moment when he and McClean tackled each other and the ball went out of play. It was difficult to see what he brought to the team, or what his role was meant to be.
Alan Browne – N/A
Didn’t make an impact.
Derrick Williams – N/A
Came on in stoppage time.
Aaron Connolly – 6
He came on for 13 minutes and had two shots on target. Connolly was a significant improvement on Ireland’s forward options. His exclusion from the starting line-up was difficult to fathom at the time and now likes a very poor and costly decision.
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