Tuesday 28 February 2017

How they rated

KEIREN WESTWOOD: First competitive appearance and handled comfortably but under no pressure. Had no chance with Macedonia goal.

Unfortunate to be booked for time-wasting, but he had been warned. Crucial block when Trichkovski got through again. Good distribution.

7

KEVIN FOLEY

Another competitive debutant, he linked up well with the experienced Duff, but rarely ventured over the half-way line in the first half. When he did advance in the second half it wasn't with any conviction or success. Worth another look.

6

RICHARD DUNNE

Overcame shoulder injury to play, and showed no ill-effects with some crunching tackles. However, he was rounded too easily by Trichkovski for the goal. Booked for tussle with Pandev, a booking which rules him out of the return leg on June 4.

5

DARREN O'DEA

Yet another making his first competitive appearance, he showed his prowess in the air and on the ground, winning good headers and making vital tackles. Can be happy with his display and will doubtless get more chances to prove his worth.

6

KEVIN KILBANE

Making his 65th successive competitive appearance, he wasn't put under any great pressure and was able to venture forward to link up with McGeady. Like all his colleagues, he tended to defend too deeply in the second half.

6

DAMIEN DUFF

Making a welcome return after missing the start of this campaign, his trickery won frees, while he tracked back energetically and effectively to ensure that Foley always had support. Picked the pocket of his marker and laid on chance for Keane which wasn't taken.

8

DARRON GIBSON

Selected for his exocet shooting, he made that pay when his free proved too hot for Nuredinoski to hold, and Keane despatched the loose ball to the net. Initially, his passing was wayward, but he soon settled into his rhythm, maintaining possession even if he never got within shooting distance. Showed he can tackle too.

7

GLENN WHELAN

The best passer on the team, with every pass finding his man, apart from a couple of long balls which were headed clear. Didn't neglect his defensive duties and made the tackles and intercepts when necessary to close the route through the centre.

7

AIDEN McGEADY

In his 38th game, he finally broke his duck. Following Trapattoni's advice, and receiving from his captain on the edge of the penalty area, he shot and scored at the near post. His trickery engaged the attention of two defenders most of the time and he tracked back to good effect.

8

ROBBIE KEANE

Equalling Andy Townsend's record as Irish captain for a 41st time, he laid on McGeady's goal and then scored one himself with his quick reaction to Gibson's free. Led the line well, showing no signs of his long lay-off. Constant threat to defence.

7

KEVIN DOYLE Took a heavy knock early on, and a second one forced his retirement after 16 minutes. Had looked lively and was linking up well with his captain to cause problems for the Macedonian defence. Former Irish boss Mick McCarthy will have cause to worry over Doyle's fitness now. Not on long enough to rate.

SUBSTITUTES

SHANE LONG

His first contribution led to the free which resulted in Keane's goal. Screwed good chance wide after being put through by Keane flick. Took a hard knock, which should have cost Grncharov a red card. 8

KEITH FAHEY for Gibson 76

JAMES McCARTHY for Keane 87

Sunday Indo Sport

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