Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy put the Ireland management on trial following lucky draw in Serbia
Eamon Dunphy hopes Ireland’s fortuitous draw with Serbia will yield a spell of deep introspection from players and management alike, while Liam Brady believes their turgid display on a rainy Belgrade night was simply a revealing demonstration of the technical limitations constraining the group.
It all started so well. Three minutes in and Burnley’s record signing, Jeff Hendrick, gave the visitors garbed in white the perfect launchpad to secure three points at the first time of asking on the road to Russia.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, any nascent momentum had been trundled into the sodden turf and Ireland resorted to a brand of aimless speculation that served to make a decidedly decent Serbian outfit appear to be that type of outfit other teams will not permit them to be.
Ireland’s retreat was stark and needless, possession was thrown away with a worrying insouciance and the hosts assumed almost full control.
If not for deplorable finishing and the interventions of man of the match Darren Randolph, Ireland would have been dead and buried long before Daryl Murphy levelled proceedings with 10 minutes to go.
In the space of seven second half minutes beginning on the hour, Serbia registered twice thanks to the outstanding Filip Kostic and then the equally impressive Dusan Tadic from the spot - with a penalty that never was.
Still, there’s a point on the board but the performance was among the worst of the O’Neill era.
In his post match analysis on RTÉ, Eamon Dunphy lobbied, as his wont, for more passing, slicker midfield play, the banishing of Glenn Whelan and a swift return to left back for Robbie Brady. Wes Hoolahan may have come up, too. What’s more, the shot callers were put on notice.
“There are a lot of lessons to be taken from tonight about defence, midfield and attitude. We did not show a good attitude for the first hour and 15 minutes.
“This management team need to get their act together. They need to get their right team on the pitch and show them how to manage a game.”
Liam Brady, a midfield sleuth of some repute in his day, countered by banishing the notion that this current crop have ever shown signs of the total football gene coursing through their DNA, he included the manager in his assessment.
“I dispute the fact that we got the ball down and played at the Euros. A lot of our play was long ball stuff……but most of the time it’s down to sheer effort, pressure and endeavour. To ask this Irish team to play is a myth.
“It has to come from the management and I don’t think it’s gong to come. Martin O’Neill’s track record suggests getting from back to front quickly. Asking this Irish team to do anything else I think, is a myth.”