It’s not all doom and gloom for football fans in Ireland.
While the dust continues to settle following Ireland’s controversial loss to Portugal on Wednesday, it’s now time to look towards the future.
If you looked purely at the results, you might believe that things are completely bleak, but this is not the case. There are reasons to be excited, and here are five of them:
Reasons to be excited about Irish football
There was a moment last night where Adam Idah broke free from the grasps of Pepe and Ruben Dias while the ball was dropping out of the sky. The young Corkman plucked it from the heavens like he was just kicking a ball out with his mates, kept it for a second, and brought the midfield into play.
It was sensational, as was his game as a whole. Aaron Connolly will continue to improve, while Troy Parrott is hot on their heels. That’s a really strong front three for the future.
The biggest testament to Bazunu’s ability is that when Ronaldo stepped up to take his penalty, it didn’t feel like he was definitely going to score.
The young Dub looked physically intimidating and imposing, and he really seemed like he could make it down to wherever Ronaldo blasted it.
🇵🇹 0-0 🇮🇪
15' Gavin Bazunu saves Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty to deny the Portuguese captain a world-record international goal!
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 1, 2021
One shaky moment aside, Bazunu looked calm and composed on the ball and making saves, and he has ensured that he will remain ahead of Caoimhin Kelleher in the pecking order for now.
While it is abundantly clear that the system worked – we were beating Portugal and creating chances for almost 90 minutes – perhaps the more important point is that the players are clearly buying into Kenny’s system.
For too long we have seen Irish players look absolutely bored out of their minds on a football pitch, but these lads looked excited to put it up to Portugal, and that’s exactly what they did. With a bit more time and effort, Irish football could reap the benefits of these new ideas for years to come.
Cullen looks to have locked down that CDM position, where he sits in front of the back four (or five) and tries to win the ball back and keep it.
He is doing really well for Anderlecht out in Belgium at the minute, and he looked extremely confident on the ball last night, even when he was being closed down by the likes of Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes. He battled hard on the night, and showed his class on the ball on occasion too.
The return of Shane Duffy
While John Egan will naturally grab the headlines because of his goal, it was really excellent to see Duffy back doing what he does best.
After a great start to the Premier League, Duffy looked assured at the back, and got his body in the way of some shots that definitely appeared to be flying goalward during the game. It’s great to have him back.