Friday 9 December 2016

Daniel McDonnell's player ratings from Ireland's draw with Slovakia

Published 30/03/2016 | 07:46

Shane Long shoots to score his side's first goal from the penalty spot
Shane Long shoots to score his side's first goal from the penalty spot

There were plenty of positives from Ireland's two friendlies as Martin O'Neill's men begin the road to Paris. Here is how Daniel McDonnell rated last night's performers.

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ROB ELLIOT - 6

A disastrous night for Elliot on his first Irish outing since 2014. Went down clutching his right knee as Stoch opened the scoring and now faces a break that could have disastrous implications for the rest of the season in terms of club and country.

CYRUS CHRISTIE - 7

The open nature allowed the Derby defender to showcase his ability to overlap and the real defensive issues were elsewhere. Not certain to go to France but did his prospects no harm with bright showing.

PAUL McSHANE - 5

A miserable first half for the Reading defender with an unfortunate role in both Slovakian goals. A better second half but he will fear the consequences – especially with Shane Duffy doing so well on Friday.

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JOHN O’SHEA - 6

In and out of the Sunderland side recently and only played 45 minutes here. McShane was in the spotlight in terms of both goals but it was by no means a vintage defensive display all round. Centre-half is an intriguing department at the moment.

STEPHEN WARD - 5

Back in the side at Burnley and match-sharp but was caught on the hop by Slovakia as they broke through for the equaliser before the break. His French situation might revolve around O’Neill’s view of the versatile Marc Wilson and his thinking on Robbie Brady.

GLENN WHELAN - 6

Deployed in his usual role in front of the back four and centre-halves frequently split to allow him get on the ball. Made a couple of darts into opposition territory but his brief was mainly about facilitating others. It’s hard to see O’Neill picking a team without him come the summer.

EUNAN O’KANE - 7

Interesting that he was selected and, while he almost made a costly second-half error, he was confident and always looked to get on the ball. The Derryman is a tidy player and now an outside contender in the crowded race for midfield spots. Has set challenge to club-mate Harry Arter.

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JAMES McCARTHY - 7

Made a difference on Friday and he seemed to be enjoying the first half as he was able to execute plenty of passes without being put under a huge amount of pressure. Suspicion lingers that he would be better in a deeper role but he never looked too flustered and did all right.

WES HOOLAHAN - 8

Spoke at the weekend about considering his international future in the summer and it would be crying shame if he packed it in. On this evidence he’s still Ireland’s most creative player – the midfield is better with Hoolahan in the picture.

JAMES McCLEAN - 8

Really lively showing in an unfamiliar role. Critics of McClean have described him as a one-trick pony but his old boss Stephen Kenny always felt that he could play through the centre. With O’Neill leaning away from using out-and-out wingers it’s a necessary attribute.

SHANE LONG - 8

The case for Long as the starting striker in France is strengthening with every passing week. Defenders hate playing against him and his pace gives referees persistent dilemmas. Replaced at the break because of injury scare.

MARTIN O’NEILL 7

Picked a positive team although adventure was punished for both goals. Faith in O’Kane justified.

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SUBSTITUTES

Darren Randolph 5 for Elliot, 15 mins – A few ropey moments for O’Neill’s number one.

Robbie Brady 6 for Long, 45 mins – Effective in a variety of positions.

Alex Pearce 6 for O’Shea, 45 mins - Solid enough shift.

Anthony Pilkington 6 for O’Kane, 66 mins

Aiden McGeady  6for Hoolahan, 73 mins

Jonathan Hayes 6 for Ward, 79 mins

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