Ireland 2-0 Bosnia: O’Neill persists with diamond formation that sparked Ireland’s dramatic reversal in fortunes

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

Bosnia 1-1 Ireland: Ireland withstand barrage on left-flank to take the edge

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.

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Poland 2-1 Ireland: Left-sided defensive weakness and absence of Hoolahan guile condemns Irish to playoff

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

Scotland 1-0 Ireland: Three Observations

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