Ireland’s friendly against Iceland on Tuesday night turned out to be something of a damp squib.
Martin O’Neill’s side lost 1-0 courtesy of a first half free-kick from Hordur Magnusson, and although the match had little on the line other than pride (and FIFA world ranking points), the performance was still enough to irk former Irish manager Brian Kerr.
The RTE Sport pundit was discussing the match on Radio 1’s Morning Ireland programme, and it’s safe to say that he was not happy with the display from O’Neill’s experimental lineup, paying particular attention to the lack of chances created in the absence of Wes Hoolahan in the midfield:
“It wasn’t very good at all.
“The 37,000 people, if there was that there, if they paid in they’d be within their rights to go to the consumer association and look for their money back. They were swizzed out of an international match.
“The match was pitched as an international between a team that had got to the [quarter-finals] of the Euros in the summer and the Republic of Ireland, but really it was the Ireland second string, and in some cases third string, against Iceland with most of their best players not present.
“The game itself was poor. It was low tempo. There was very little pattern to it on our side. We’re a bit like a mongrel dog with no nice patches on it.
“We’re neither a direct a long ball team nor are we a passing team that does some nice things.
“We looked like a team that was thrown together at the last minute without any work being done or practice being done on the old 4-4-2 system, whereas Iceland had a clear style about them.
“It appears if Wesley Hoolahan doesn’t play, we don’t create any chances.”
Only two members of the starting lineup against Wales – namely Jeff Hendrick and James McClean – kept their places for the Iceland match, in a fixture that also saw John Egan and Conor Hourihane make their debut from the start, with former Dundalk duo Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle make their first appearances in an Ireland shirt midway through the second half.
The likes of Kevin Doyle, Jonny Hayes Aiden McGeady and Keiren Westwood were also handed rare starts, with Robbie Brady (at left-back) captaining the side in the absence of the injured Seamus Coleman.