The Republic of Ireland 2 Gibraltar 0.
Ireland limped to a 2-0 victory over Gibraltar on Monday night at the Aviva Stadium. Mick McCarthy’s team laboured against the side ranked 195th in the world in a game that will have been forgotten as soon as many fans left the ground. Other than the three points, there were few positives from the performance for McCarthy.
Here is how we rated the Ireland players:
Darren Randolph – 6
Randolph has been Ireland’s most consistent player over the last 18-months but wasn’t called into action against Gibraltar. The Middlesbrough goalkeeper, earning his 36th cap, had little to do against the side at the bottom of Group D.
Seamus Coleman – 6
The skipper got the nod ahead of Matt Doherty again at right-back. McCarthy’s decision was questioned by some ahead of the game, with Ireland fans hoping that the Wolves wing-back would be given an opportunity to win his sixth cap against modest opposition. However, Coleman was centrally involved throughout the game.
The Everton full-back linked up well with Robinson – who drifted inside and allowed Coleman to overlap – and showed his class with some nice passes and effective raids into the final third. Most of Ireland’s openings came through Coleman receiving the ball in the final third and playing a ball across the penalty area – even if his passes didn’t always find their target.
Richard Keogh – 6
Keogh was quietly impressive against Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday night. The Derby defender made several blocks, clearances and interceptions against the Danes and would have received more credit were it not for the display of Duffy alongside him.
Gibraltar represented a different test, but Keogh was dependable on the few occasions he was required to defend, while also keeping it neat in possession. He has cemented his spot in Ireland’s central defence.
Shane Duffy – 5
Arguably Ireland’s most important player, the Derry-native was excellent against Denmark. Duffy was almost unbeatable in central defence, making several telling interceptions – including a fantastic tackle on Christian Eriksen. He then showed off his talents in the opposition penalty area with a towering header to earn Ireland a potentially priceless point.
Gibraltar were a different prospect than Eriksen and the Danes, and maybe that may explain why Duffy was a little sloppy at times – particularly in the first half, as some of his passing was loose.
Enda Stevens – 6
Stevens was often in oceans of space on the left, but Ireland tended to focus their attacks down the opposite flank. However, when involved, the Sheffield United full-back showed some decent touches. He linked up well with McGoldrick and made some clever off the ball runs.
Jeff Hendrick – 4
After a quiet display against Denmark, Hendrick would have been hoping for an eye-catching performance against Gibraltar. It didn’t happen, though. The Burnley midfielder went through long spells of the game without making any impact. At times, it was easy to forget he was on the pitch.
Conor Hourihane – 5.5
Earning his 12th cap, the Aston Villa midfielder played deeper against Gibraltar than he had against Denmark. He often started Ireland’s moves and sprayed some nice passes around. His deliveries weren’t as effective as in previous games.
Callum Robinson – 6.5
Robinson replaced Robbie Brady in the starting lineup and impressed. Well, as much as one can impress in such a lifeless game. The Preston North End forward, winning his seventh cap, was Ireland’s brightest player in the final third. He linked up well with Coleman and McGoldrick, was creative with the ball and got himself into good positions. He has made himself a viable option for the autumn games.
James McClean – 4
McClean netted twice against the same opposition in 2014 but didn’t come close to scoring on Monday night. The Stoke City winger was ineffective. During one minute in the first half, he lost the ball twice against one of the world’s worst international teams. His touch was heavy, his deliveries were mostly wayward and he showed no signs of being on the same wavelength as his teammates.
At times, he was almost in the way, either hugging the touchline and thus preventing Stevens from overlapping, or playing too close to McGoldrick and condensing play when Ireland needed to stretch the game. He redeemed his performance slightly with an assist for Brady at the death, finally hitting an accurate cross.
David McGoldrick – 6
The Sheffield United forward thought he had opened his goalscoring account for Ireland, but his strike – which was going wide – was eventually given as an own goal by Joseph Chipolina. He was industrious again, displaying some nice touches and clever passes. The forward also linked well with Robinson. However, the wait for a first international goal goes on and he’ll never get a better opportunity to get off the mark for McCarthy’s side.
Scott Hogan – 4
The Aston Villa forward, who spent last season on loan with Sheffield United, struggled in the first half. Hogan was caught offside too many times and failed to effectively link up with his teammates. The striker’s performance in the half was summed up when he received the ball from McGoldrick on the left wing. Robinson was free on the edge of the box and calling for the ball, but Hogan failed to spot his teammate and eventually hit a poor pass back to McGoldrick. He may have missed his chance to become Ireland’s starting centre-forward.
Sean Maguire – 5
Worked hard to make an impact on the match, but couldn’t spark a stale contest into life.
Robbie Brady – 6
Scored in stoppage time with a header at the back post.