Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland turned in a passable impression of Premier League table-toppers Leicester City to triumph over Switzerland on Saturday evening. Continue reading
One year and two days ago, the Republic of Ireland lost away to Scotland by a single goal. The nation’s chances of even securing a playoff looked remote at best. Tonight, it won that playoff, comfortably besting a much-fancied Bosnia-Herzigovina side to qualify for Euro 2016. Continue reading
Mehmed Bazdarevic, manager of Bosnia-Herzegovina, had clearly done his homework. Recordings of Ireland’s recent visit to Warsaw would have revealed a fragile Irish left-flank, that crumbled in the face of Polish probing to deny Ireland automatic passage to next summer’s European Championship finals in France.
In a pug-ugly, scrappy game, in which neither nation could seemingly manage to string two passes together, Ireland fell victim to a calamitous performance from the left-side of their defence – and only remained in touch to the end thanks to an extremely fortunate penalty decision in their favour. Continue reading
Jerome Boateng. In the 81st minute. With a speculative swing of his right boot from outside the Irish area. Not a particularly obscure version of Cluedo, but the source, time and manner of Germany’s first shot on target against Ireland tonight in the Aviva. Continue reading
1. O’Neill selection cedes midfield to Scotland
Martin O’Neill began this qualifying campaign by selecting a 4-1-4-1 away to Georgia. Against a side with five defenders and a lone striker, this was rightly seen as an overly conservative approach. Ireland eventually avoided punishment for that decision courtesy of a fantastic late Aiden McGeady winner. McGeady then went on to find himself in an unfamiliar number ten role away to Germany as O’Neill switched to a 4-4-1-1. This too was a poor tactical decision from the Irish manager and again his side had to bail him out with a late goal. Continue reading