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McCarthy & Whelan Must Not Hide In Hoolahan’s Shadow

Wes Hoolahan’s performance last night was at times majestic and he constructed most of what was positive about Ireland’s play in the second half, however James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan mustn’t be allowed to hide in his shadow. 

Hoolahan, this morning, will be waking up to a plethora of column inches surrounding his outstanding display last night and how he helped Ireland valiantly came back from the brink of defeat to cling onto a valuable point.

Hoolahan was the architect of the Irish’s good play, particularly when Ireland changed tack and moved Jonathan Walters up alongside Robbie Keane, which gave the Norwich City man the opportunity to work more space around the edge of the box and influence proceedings.

He gave Ireland an outlet which was invaluable. Despite James McCarthy’s hype in world football terms significantly outdoing Hoolahan’s reputation, it was the Dubliner who was the one player wearing green who, for the most part, one can trust to hold onto the ball and in turn create something from nothing.

As is the way with last minute draws, a lot of negatives can be swept under the carpet following results such as this. Although Ireland’s display in the second half was outstanding, especially when measured against what had gone for the first 45 minutes, one moment of magic cannot be used to cover up the inefficiencies of Hoolahan’s midfield partners.

Whelan and McCarthy came into the game as it went on but a lot can be learned from their midfield counterpart in showing for the ball and lacking fear of making a mistake.

Martin O’Neill’s team selection couldn’t have displayed more bravery, it’s just a shame Hoolahan was one of the few midfielders to provide the boss with some courageousness in return.

Yes, there were moments where McCarthy and Whelan made their mark but for a side’s central midfield pairing to find themselves so bypassed for large periods was telling.

Liam Brady questioned McCarthy’s passion in the lead up to the game, but the chance for the Everton midfielder to prove his critics wrong passed him by.

He grew into the game, like the majority of the team in the second half, but we are still waiting on the McCarthy performance which proves he can become a world-class midfielder.

Whelan has, for some time now, been a loyal and efficient servant but efficient and effective are too entirely different meanings in the context of international football. We do not need bystanders but go-getters like Hoolahan in the engine room.

Although the Norwich man could have held onto the ball better at times, the way he was always the one available and willing to make a difference in the final third was juxtaposed against McCarthy and Whelan’s largely sub-standard play.

There are many positives to take from this game and this writer, as much as anyone, is delighted his country are still very much so in with a real chance of qualification but the team as a whole needs to replicate what it did to Poland in the second half if we are to qualify.

Hiding behind Hoolahan will not protect us against a Scotland who will not afford Ireland any time and space in our next competitive game.

Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena

Featured image By Michael Kranewitter (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-at (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.