In this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish football podcast, former Cork City defender Neal Horgan joined us in the studio to review Ireland’s draw against Austria.
The Boys in Green struggled to get going for large periods of the game, and in the end, Martin O’Neill’s side rescued a point late on thanks to Jon Walters’ 85th-minute strike.
Very few of the Irish players emerged from the match with much credit – in particular, the performances of Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward. Having played at full-back himself for a number of years, Neal is better qualified than most to give his opinion on just what the latter was lacking in his display in Dublin on Sunday.
Interestingly, he believes that the Burnley man’s struggle could boil down to missing Seamus Coleman on the opposite flank.
“Ward, I think it was the right decision to take him off [for Daryl Murphy in the second half].
“But I do think he kind of missed Seamus Coleman, that confidence coming out, as full-backs. You can kind of get that from your other full-back, believe it or not.
“[Cyrus] Christie did ok, he did well going forward. I think his feet maybe aren’t as good as Coleman, when he’s getting the ball from Duffy, and he’s taking two touches instead of one.
“He’s a very good player, he’s done very well too, but I think Ward actually missed Coleman.”
Ward endured a tough first half at the Aviva before he was finally put out of his misery by Martin O’Neill in the 56th minute. With Coleman set to miss the remainder of the qualification campaign, Ward and Christie might have to start working at building up an effective partnership before the next set of qualifiers.
For that and more, be sure to check out the podcast in full below.