Ireland’s path to the World Cup in Russia hit something of a bump on Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Austria in Dublin.
In truth, it could have been worse as Martin Hinterigger’s strike on the half-hour mark looked as though it could have been the winner before Jonathan Walters rescued the Boys in Green with an equaliser six minutes from time.
However, Martin O’Neill and Ireland will still feel like this is a case of two points dropped, as a somewhat conservative team selection and staggeringly poor performance in the first half ended up costing them to a fair degree.
With, to be brutally honest, precious few Irish players emerging from the draw with much credit, how did the individual players rate?
Republic of Ireland Player Ratings vs. Austria
Darren Randolph – 6.5: Didn’t have much to do, in truth. Beaten by a brilliant finish in the first half, and showed great agility to deny Austria a second goal with a fantastic save just before the equaliser. Solid afternoon for Randolph.
Cyrus Christie – 6: A steady hand at right-back without ever really going above that. Made himself available on the wing when needed, and overall Christie can be pleased with himself.
Shane Duffy – 5: A very uneven performance, and the type of display he really has to stamp out of his game. Was nearly the hero with a late disallowed goal but that would have papered over some giant cracks.
Kevin Long – 6.5: Long has settled into international football very well. Looked far more assured than Duffy, which will put the Brighton man’s place at risk when Ciaran Clark returns.
Stephen Ward – 3: After a strong season for Burnley, hopes were high that Ward had finally turned a corner. This, however, was his worst Irish performance in a long time. Extremely sloppy in possession, and completely lost Hinterigger for the Austrian goal.
Glenn Whelan – 6: Whelan starting was a sore point with many, especially since it apparently came at the expense of Wes Hoolahan, but the Stoke man was effective and calm in the midfield today.
Harry Arter – 6.5: Lively display from the Bournemouth man. Let down by his teammates sometimes as he tried to pick a pass, but both he and O’Neill should be encouraged by his display.
Jeff Hendrick – 4: Hendrick is surely on borrowed time in the starting lineup unless his form improves drastically. It’s hard to figure out what he’s trying to do at times, and more often than not his ball retention here was worryingly wasteful.
Robbie Brady – 4.5: Another whose head didn’t seem to be in it today. Brady’s set piece delivery was erratic, his overall play way below the standard we have come to expect. The positional change in the second half seemed to take the pressure off of him, however.
James McClean – 7: Took charge of the occasion and drove the team on late on as they pushed for a goal. His enthusiasm led to somewhat questionable decision-making at times, but his drive is in no doubt.
Jonathan Walters – 7: Worked tirelessly up front even when those behind him were not quite up to the same standard. Dragovic and Hinterigger were at Walters for most of the match, but he lost them just long enough to fire home the equaliser late on.
Daryl Murphy – 6.5: Offered something different when he came on in the second half. The switch to a more direct style suited the Newcastle man and he showed his worth to this team yet again.
Wes Hoolahan – 7: Ignoring the elephant in the room that’s saying he should have started, Hoolahan’s quality shone through from the second he came on. Suddenly, an Austrian defence that was giving little away looked al lot more stretched.
Aiden McGeady – 5: Brought on to inject a bit of late creativity, but really wasn’t on long enough to have a major impact.
On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish Football podcast, we spoke to former Ireland international Joe Gamble as well as looking ahead to Martin O’Neill’s side’s clash against Austria this weekend.