Now the dust has settled after Friday nights game in Celtic Park it is time for reflection on the Irish performance. Thousands travelled from Ireland and in my opinion they were short changed by the Irish performance. It was not the defeat that sticks in the gut, but the manner of the performance. One criticism that was levelled at previous manager that he tended to at times play the long ball game which fans and commentators hated. But I was amazed that this was the tactic employed by Martin O Neill last week. By doing so I actually thought they played into the Scot’s hands. The whole game was played in the air for our part and our midfield was totally all at sea. Darron Gibson in my opinion never got a chance with the tactics employed. Darron is a player who I thought could have got the ball down and played a bit. In fact if O’Neill had employed this tactic I am sure the Everton midfielder could have created better supply for Shane Long. Long spent most of the night with the ball coming at this neck and it is impossible to score from that position. Although I am pointing out Irelands failings I have to say I did feel Scotland deserved the win. They were the side with the passion to go forward and who wanted it more. The winning goal was poor defending by the boys at the back for Ireland. Scott Brown should have never been given all the space to lay the ball back for Maloney, although have to say Maloney’s finish was excellent. So with that result the group is tight and next up in qualifying for the Irish is a game against table toppers Poland.
There were another two issues surrounding the game that I can not let go and have to comment about. The dropping of Robbie Keane filled the headlines of many Irish newspapers on Saturday morning and to be quite honest I can not understand why the media men were annoyed about his dropping. Let us be honest Robbie has been a great servant to his country for many a long year and his goal tally will never be matched, but in a game where you need a front man to be a runner for the ninety minutes, Robbie is not your man and I thought the choice to play Shane Long was the correct one, mind you the tactics employed were totally wrong if you wanted to get the best out of Longie.
One nasty undertone to the game was the comments attributed to former Scottish international Gordon McQueen who claimed Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy were traitors because the two lads had declared to play for the Irish Republic instead of the country of their birth. The atmosphere and the game was always going to be explosive and McQueen’s comments were not required. But I suppose the fact that we have not heard to much from him in the media lately, I suppose he fancied a chance at getting a bit of publicity for himself. The two lads were always going to face a hostile reception so there was no need for McQueen to throw more petrol on the fire.I actually thought he should have been ashamed of himself. I must say in finishing, I am so looking forward to the return game early next year at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin