Wednesday 28 September 2016

Advantage Ireland as Robbie Brady's away goal gives us the edge over Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 Republic of Ireland 1

Published 13/11/2015 | 20:34

Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Bosnia's Senad Lulic in action with Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (L) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (C) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Robbie Brady celebrates after scoring the first goal for Republic of Ireland Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 Republic of Ireland's James McClean in action with Bosnia's Ognjen Vranjes Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Robbie Brady (R) of Ireland celebrates scoring a goal during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
***Alternative Crop*** Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Mensur Mujdza (left) and Republic of Ireland's Robert Brady battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Wes Hoolahan (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Edin Dzeko (right) and Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Bosnia. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
13 November 2015; Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland, in action against Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Fog comes down during the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Ireland at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters watch on during the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Toni Šunjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Mensur Mujdža, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in action against Robbie Brady, Republic of Ireland. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
(R - L Top) Republic of Ireland's James McCarthy, Daryl Murphy, Stephen Ward, Darren Randolph, Ciaran Clark, Richard Keogh (L - R Bottom) Wes Hoolahan, Seamus Coleman, Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick and Robert Brady pose for a team group photograph during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Toni Sunjic (left) and Republic of Ireland's Daryl Murphy battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff first leg at The Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 13, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Republic. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission, please contact PA Images for further information: Tel: +44 (0) 115 8447447.
ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - NOVEMBER 13. Ireland fans show their support prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

It was hard not to feel a tinge of disappointment as Edin Dzeko’s 85th minute equaliser denied the Republic of Ireland a famous victory in their Euro 2016 play-off first leg, but the reality must be that the 1-1 draw in Zenica is a result to cherish.

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As Robbie Brady fired Ireland ahead amid the fog and gloom of a curiously low-key Bosnian night, it seemed as if the away victory that could have opened the door to next summer’s finals in France was about to be achieved.

Yet Bosnia’s limp and unimpressive team of star names had some life left in them after all and their leading marksman Dzeko was on hand to draw his nation level and give them hope ahead of the trip to Dublin.

Hope was the prize Ireland were chasing as they headed to Bosnia as huge underdogs, with an injury hit and side that was also affected by the absence of a couple of key players in the experienced duo of John O’Shea and Jonathan Walters.

Against such odds, staying in the tie was the primary objective for Martin O’Neill and his team, but a gutsy, courageous display ensured they had so much more when the referee blew his whistle for the last time.

There was some relief that the game finished at all, with the fog that descended in the second half sparking suggestions that the remainder of this tie may have to be played on Saturday afternoon, yet there was to be drama amid the gloom in the closing stages of the tie.

Brady’s magical goal was a moment of inspiration from a player who struggled to make his mark for long periods in this game, yet Ireland were unable to hold on for the win that would have sent them into the second leg as favourites to qualify.

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Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match
Reuters / Dado Ruvic
Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Ann-Marie Brannigan, left, and Nikki Kavanagh, from Drogheda, Co. Louth, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Ann-Marie Brannigan, left, and Nikki Kavanagh, from Drogheda, Co. Louth, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Supporters arrive ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Ann-Marie Brannigan, left, and Nikki Kavanagh, from Drogheda, Co. Louth, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Sean O'Shaughnessy, left, and Ciaran Fadden, from Perrystown, Dublin, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Philip Donnelly, left, with Adam and Michael McNamee, from Templeogue, Dublin, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Philip Donnelly, left, with Adam and Michael McNamee, from Templeogue, Dublin, ahead of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters arrive ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Marina and Pat Murray, from Cork City, ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Marina and Pat Murray, from Cork City, ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
13 November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters Marina and Pat Murray, from Cork City, ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
November 2015; Republic of Ireland supporters arrive ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland supporters arrive ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland supporters arrive ahead of the UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier Play-off, 1st Leg, match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Ireland. Stadion Bilino Pole, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland fans before the match Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic
Republic of Ireland fans outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic
Republic of Ireland fans outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic
Police outside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic
Football - Bosnia & Herzegovina v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Play-Off First Leg - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 13/11/15 General view before the match Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Bosnia fans outside the stadium before the match Reuters / Dado Ruvic Livepic
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team arrive at stadium prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans arrive at stadium prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team arrive at stadium prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Bosnia and Herzegovina fans arrive at stadium with the police escort prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team light flares prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team light flares prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team light flares prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team arrive at stadium prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team light flares prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Suppporters of Bosnia and Herzegovina national team light flares prior the EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off First Leg match at Bilino Polje Stadium on November 13, 2015 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Video: ‘I barely seen it myself’ - Robbie Brady on his vital away goal  

So near, yet so far, but we should toast the efforts of a group of players that again banished the notion that we are not capable of competing against the game's top sides on the international stage.

We know we lack world-class performers, we don’t have match winners who are performing on Champions League stages and yet a well organised and battling set of players have proved once more that they can grind out results when the pressure is applied.

Ireland’s optimism was contrasted by the despair of their rivals. Let’s be honest here, Bosnia were dreadful. This was a side given a second chance after a poor Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, but they hardly seemed enthused by their task.

The initial fervor and noise in the flowing from the Bosnian fans in Zenica was to be expected from a proud football nation, yet their heroes in blue failed to respond the encouragement of the locals with an insipid first half display.

While Ireland’s determination to hold firm and get bodies behind the ball made the task difficult for Mehmed Bazdarevic’s men, but their star turns failed to provide the spark that was required to give them the flying start they craved.

The gifted Miralem Pjanic was nullified by the duo of Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy, who successfully carried out their mission to ensure the home side were denied the time and space to make their perceived class tell.

Yet Bosnia did not help themselves by playing a pedestrian pace that played into Ireland’s hands, with their lack of urgency making life all too easy for an Ireland side that was lacking some of its key men due to a combination of injury and suspension.

Edin Visca was the exception as he terrorized an exposed Stephen Ward, with his lack of action at club level this season exposed as he was highlighted as the weak link in a backline marshaled superbly the unlikely central defensive pairing of Richard Keogh and Ciaran Clark.

Ireland barely threatened in the first half, but that would not have concerned O’Neill as he gathered his troops for a debrief at the break with spirits lifted by the reality that their play-off opponents were not as potent as we all feared their might be prior to kick-off.

The descending fog made the second half something of a mysterious event for many, but with Bosnia failing to up the tempo and put Ireland under the kind of pressure that could have broken their resolve, the moment the nation had been waiting for arrived in the 82nd minute.

Ireland’s 800 travelling fans may not have seen too much of Brady’s wonderful strike that secure what could be a valuable away goal, yet the crispness of his strike and the superb direction he found left Bosnia keeper Asmir Beogovic helpless as the net bulged with delight to greet the opening goal in this play-off.

It was the first moment of inspiration in a tie that failed to spark into life for the home side and for a few fleeting minutes, we dared to believe that Brady’s goal would give Ireland was would arguably have been their most significant victory away from home in a big qualifier.

Bosnian captain Edin Dzeko ruined that fantasy as his first contribution to the tie was to be an equalizing goal that his side barely earned, yet the idea that Bosnia were a step or two ahead of Ireland has been banished.

Walters will be a welcome addition to the Ireland ranks when he returns from suspension for Monday’s second leg and if Bosnia's under-performers repeat this performance at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night, the Irish nation should get ready for a party.

 

Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark, Richard Keogh, Stephen Ward (Wilson 66), Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Wes Hoolahan (McClean 59), Robbie Brady (McGeady 86), Daryl Murphy

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