Saturday 10 December 2016

'He's not good enough for this level' - RTE panel scathing in criticism of McCarthy and Clark

Published 18/06/2016 | 16:59

Republic of Ireland players make their way back to the half way line after conceding the first goal against Belgium during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Belgium and Republic of Ireland at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland players make their way back to the half way line after conceding the first goal against Belgium during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Belgium and Republic of Ireland at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The RTE panel of Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady and John Giles have heavily criticised James McCarthy and Ciaran Clark for the roles they played in Belgium's three goals in today's defeat to Belgium in Bordeaux.

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Marc Wilmots' men simply had too much for Ireland, who barely landed a blow at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux with Belgium dominating possession from the off and forcing them on to the back foot.

But Ireland could find neither the defensive resilience, nor a cutting edge further up the field to trouble a team packed with household names, and while the Belgians will need just a point against Sweden in their final Group E game on Wednesday to secure second spot, the Republic will need to beat Italy in Lille to stand any chance of progressing.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir waved play on and Belgium broke at pace with De Bruyne surging down the right past McCarthy before picking out Lukaku, who shifted the ball on to his left foot before drilling into the bottom corner with Randolph powerless to resist.

Ireland knew they had to throw caution to the wind in search an equaliser and went close when Brady saw a close-range shot blocked by Meunier with 59 minutes gone, but the Belgian defender helped to turn the screw two minutes later when he crossed for Witsel to power a header past Randolph and effectively seal victory. McCarthy completely lost the midfielder in the run-up to the goal.

There was no way back for the Republic with 20 minutes still remaining when substitute James McClean was robbed by Meunier. He found Hazard, who skipped away from the despairing tackle of Ciaran Clark before handing Lukaku his second of the afternoon on a plate.

Eamon Dunphy pinpointed James McCarthy for criticism for his part in the opening two goals.

"His eyes are on the ball, he's let Witsel sneak in behind him and put the ball right in the corner of the net. That's responsibility is to guard Witsel and it's not that hard," Dunphy said.

"All he needs to do is keep an eye on him and get the right side of him,.

"It's a good goal from an attacker's point of view, it's a bad goal from a defender's point of view.

"James McCarthy is a big lad, six foot, and he's a very experienced Premier league player... at a good junior club, a coach would put on a session and you learn what do do there in professional football when you're 15.

"He's playing for Ireland, Witsel's there and he's there and it can't happen.

"He's already been responsible for diving in on the touchline 50 yards from goal (for the first goal)."

Liam Brady added: "He can't afford to be rash, as he was on the first one. or he can't afford to lose his concentration as he was on the second one.

"He knew Witsel was there. You watch the ball, you watch the player... he stared at the ball and Witsel snuck in behind him and boom. The game was over then.

Giles saidL "I couldn't imagine an Italian player doing that."

Dunphy interrupted: "I couldn't imagine any good pro doing that. I played for Millwall and I tell you what there would have been hell to pay on the pitch (if they did that).

"It's basic."

On Clark's failure to deal with Hazard for the third goal, Brady said: "An Italian runs alongside him or takes him out, he doesn't end up on his backside with the defence exposed. Lukaku won't get an easier chance and he tucks it away well.

"There is no need for that, you are two-nil down, why throw yourself into a tackle like that. It's because the boy is not thinking straight and he's not good enough to play at this level."

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