Monday 26 September 2016

Ireland player ratings: Bad night for Paul McShane and Stephen Ward as Wes Hoolahan shines

Published 29/03/2016 | 22:13

Who shone for Ireland tonight?
Who shone for Ireland tonight?

The Republic of Ireland had to settle for 2-2 draw against Slovakia in a lively affair at the Aviva Stadium, with both Irish goals coming from the penalty spot. Here is how we rated Martin O'Neill's side.

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STARTING XI

ROB ELLIOT - Extremely unfortunate night for the Newcastle United stopper who was stretchered off the field moments after conceding, having injured himself trying to prevent the Slovaks' first goal. Hopefully the injury isn't as bad as it looked. 5

CYRUS CHRISTIE - The Derby man was part of a defence that conceded twice in the first 45 minutes but both attacks originated down the Slovakian right. Will be a decent back-up to Seamus Coleman. 6

PAUL MCSHANE - A worryingly poor performance from the Reading man. Missed a header which allowed Slovakia to break for the opener, then chested in an own goal just before half time when Ireland were leading 2-1. Too often caught in a poor position. Has added more fuel to the Shane Duffy fire. 4

JOHN O'SHEA (C) - The captain's 110th cap only lasted 45 minutes, much of which did not paint a makeshift Ireland defence in a good light. 5

STEPHEN WARD - Looked every bit the back-up left back. Caught out for McShane's own goal by a Slovakian through ball. Unless Martin O'Neill decides to utilise Robbie Brady higher up the pitch in France, Ward will be on bench warming duties at the Euros - at best. 4

GLENN WHELAN - As the player with the biggest responsibility to shield the back four, this won't go down as one of Whelan's better nights. Still a sure starter against Sweden, however. 5

JAMES MCCARTHY - The Everton midfielder formed part of a five-man midfield which played the ball primarily on the ground and looked like they could trouble Slovakia offensively at every opportunity. Energetic performance. 6

EUNAN O'KANE - Not a bad Euro 2016 squad tryout for the Bournemouth midfielder, who was part of an excellent first-half midfield performance. Supplied the pass for Long when the striker was taken out by the Slovak keeper for Ireland's first penalty. Linked well with Hoolahan. 7

WES HOOLAHAN - At a time when the 33-year-old is in and out of the Norwich team, this was an excellent reminder of his capabilities. Slick passing was a constant from the Dubliner, who was a cut above every other player on the pitch in terms of ball-playing ability. Man of the match. 8

JAMES MCCLEAN - Never fails to work hard and his passion was rewarded when he was given penalty-taking duties for Ireland's second spot kick after Long was taken down. Unsurprisingly booked in the second half. 7

SHANE LONG - An all-action 45-minute performance from the striker. Won two penalties, scored one, generally caused havoc for a Slovakian defence containing Martin Skrtel. Display included an incredibly good touch to take down a long Randolph kick which led to him being fouled in the box for the second penalty. Had to leave the pitch in the last 10 minutes before coming back on but was substituted at half time. Hopefully precautionary. 8

SUBSTUTUTES

DARREN RANDOLPH - Replaced Elliott and now looks like he might have no real competition for that number 1 jersey come 13 June. 6

ROBBIE BRADY - Almost grabbed a winner while playing in an advanced position before moving to his familiar left-back role. 6

ALEX PEARCE - A centre-half who will clearly be in the mix for the Euro 2016 squad but may be pipped when it comes to it. 6

ANTHONY PILKINGTON, AIDEN MCGEADY, JONNY HAYES - All introduced amid a wave of Slovakian substitutes which completely took the life out of what was an extremely entertaining game, at least for the first half. McGeady is the only member of this trio likely to push for a squad spot at the Euros.

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