Ireland at the Euros: The good, the bad, the ones to watch and the team to start World Cup campaign
Published 28/06/2016 | 13:19
We can now sit back and reflect on Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign and some memorable moments from France. Daniel McDonnell has at look at the winners, losers, ones to watch and the team he feels should start against Serbia when the World Cup qualifiers kick off in September.
He was one of the individuals in Roy Keane's firing line post-Belarus, a game where he looked sluggish off the back of an injury interrupted season at Derby. In the space of a month he has grown in stature to the point where it would be extremely disappointing if he started next season anywhere other than the Premier League. At 24, he cannot afford to be sentimental.
The game here would be in a better place if we could produce more players like Hendrick's lifelong pal. Good enough to play in a variety of positions but this tournament indicated that the way forward is to focus on his main strengths and that's hurting sides in their half.
Leicester's reported interest in the Dubliner is good news. As one Robbie steps aside, another can step forward to carry the burden of responsibility
Ok, so it ended badly for the Derryman in just his second competitive appearance for Ireland. His first was pretty special and maybe the strain just caught up with him.
He's a raw talent with chinks in his armour but he is confident and has the physical attributes to become an extremely important player for his country. If he responds in the right way then he can graduate from Championship level too.
The awarding of the armband to Coleman was a recognition of his growing responsibility and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he assumed the role on a permanent basis with the changing in the guard. Crucially, he performed well across the tournament and set the tone for the heroics in Lille with inspirational words and some strong challenges. Emerged with credit from the French match too.
What comes now is unclear but it's fitting that a player overlooked for so long got the chance to deliver some iconic Irish tournament moments with a goal against Sweden and the cross for Brady's winner against the Italians. Another League of Ireland player from his generation, Daryl Murphy, also deserves a mention for his performances against Italy and France.
He actually did extremely well against Sweden, doing a fine job in shackling Zlatan Ibrahimovic but he ended up sitting out the second half of the tournament as Martin O'Neill concluded that James McCarthy might just be better at doing Whelan's job.
It's harsh because Whelan has done very little wrong but McCarthy will be a vital player for the next decade and it's worth consistently deploying him in his best position. O'Neill cast doubt on his future intentions yesterday.
Bombed out after the Belgium game and he will have to regroup over the summer and build the confidence levels again. West Brom have been linked with a move for his services although a full season at Aston Villa wouldn't be the worst option if guaranteed a run in the side. Clark still has time on his side for a centre half; like Duffy he just has to cut out the occasional silly error
The Corkman and Cyrus Christie were the only two outfield players that didn't get any time on the pitch. Christie probably travelled in the knowledge that he was there in case of a Seamus Coleman emergency.
Meyler might have expected to get on at some stage given that he was involved in qualifying. In the end, O'Neill could have got away with bringing Meyler or Christie instead of both.
He didn't make it to France and it must have been frustrating for Arter watching from home when it's likely he would have played a big part the way the competition panned out. He has proven himself to be a Premier League class player and really could have helped the midfield department that ran out of steam.
O'Neill made a lot of good decisions but, on balance, one criticism is that he could have brought an a fifth striker - particularly when Jon Walters' problems came to light on top of Robbie Keane's ongoing fitness issues.
David McGoldrick would have functioned as an alternative to Hoolahan but given the success of Daryl Murphy, the presence of the strong running Doyle on the bench might have helped during the tournament. It must have been hard to watch for the MLS based striker
World Cup options..
Ireland aren't blessed with wide options and the Oxford youngster made a real impression in the training camp. O'Neill hinted yesterday that he would prefer O'Dowda to move above League One level
After a year in Holland, the confident Dubliner is off to Blackburn for a season in the Championship. It can propel him into the Irish set-up
Ireland really do have quite a lot of central midfield players with a promising future. Forrester is technically comfortable enough to graduate to senior level
The Corkman is another engine room operator and he has impressed at Preston with his athleticism a major attribute. He is versatile and Ireland might require him elsewhere.
Ireland desperately need a goal poacher and they must make it a priority to court the English born Brentford striker who appears to have a natural talent in this department. He is interested.
DANIEL McDONNELL'S TEAM TO FACE SERBIA: