Friday 9 December 2016

Moment of magic from Jeff Hendrick gives Ireland huge win over Georgia

Republic of Ireland 1 Georgia 0

John Brennan

Published 07/09/2015 | 21:38

7 September 2015; Republic of Ireland players celebrate their side's first goal, scored by Jon Walters. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras ? M?dheach / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Republic of Ireland players celebrate their side's first goal, scored by Jon Walters. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras ? M?dheach / SPORTSFILE
Jon Walters, centre, Republic of Ireland, scores his side's first goal of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Jon Walters, Republic of Ireland, turns to celebrate after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; John O'Shea, Republic of Ireland, in action against Valeri Kazaishvili, Georgia. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras ? M?dheach / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Referee Ovidiu Hategan. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras ? M?dheach / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; A Republic of Ireland supporter celebrates a goal by Jon Walters. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras ? M?dheach / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Jon Walters, Republic of Ireland, turns to celebrate after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Georgia manager Kakhaber Tskhadadze. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Richard Guzmics, 20, Hungary, celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's first goal of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group F, Northern Ireland v Hungary, Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Richard Guzmics, centre left, Hungary, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group F, Northern Ireland v Hungary, Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill reacts after his team missed a goal opportunity. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Jon Walters, Republic of Ireland, is congratulated by team-mate Wes Hoolihan, left, after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Jon Walters, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Jon Walters, hidden, Republic of Ireland, is congratulated by team-mates after scoring his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Cody Glenn / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; James McCarthy, Republic of Ireland, celebrates after team mate Jon Walters scores his side's first goal. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2015; Conor McLaughlin, Northern Ireland, in action against Zsolt Kulmar, Hungary. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group F, Northern Ireland v Hungary, Windsor Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

It took a while, but Ireland got there in the end. Jon Walters' priceless goal in the 69th minute of a very poor quality qualifier at the Aviva Stadium keeps the Boys in Green in line for at least a play-off shot at getting to Euro 2016.

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Scotland's defeat by Germany in Glasgow was another bonus for Martin O'Neill with Ireland now firmly in control of third place in the table.

Certainly O'Neill would have taken plenty of stick had Walters not tapped in from two yards after great work by Jeff Hendrick down the Irish left, when the Derby County man beat three defenders with some tasty footwork.

The goal was a rare shaft of light in what was a very poor game in which Ireland's players often failed the basics of ball control and good passing when facing limited opponents.

The Irish manager had chosen a very conservative formation for a home game containing no width, as neither Aiden McGeady nor James McClean started the game.

It meant full-backs Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady had to do a trojan amount of work against a Georgian side that was game and up for a battle.

McClean didn't get on until the 74th minute and promptly picked up a yellow card that will keep him out of the Germany match next month - a fate that also landed on midfielder Glenn Whelan and for the worst reason of all, dissent.

While this performance was good enough to get the win over Georgia, any repeat against Germany on October 8 would result in the same sort of 6-1 hammering Giovanni Trapattoni's team took in the Aviva at few years ago.

Germany will eat Ireland alive if they play in this disjointed manner in a month's time. There is much work to be done, by the players and the management team, before anyone can start thinking of dusting down that old school French phrase book.

Now that I mention school, playing a game on a Monday night in the middle of term time is not the best for trying to get people to a match. But the Aviva was only half-full for this Ireland qualifier, when the team is still in the running. Come on, we can do better than that.

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