Friday 30 September 2016

The winners, losers and non-movers from Ireland's win over Switzerland

Tom Rooney

Published 25/03/2016 | 22:23

25 March 2016; The Republic of Ireland team, back row, from left to right, Kevin Doyle, Shane Duffy, Darren Randolph, David Meyler, Ciaran Clark and Robbie Brady. Front row, from left to right, Alan Judge, Shane Long, Aidan McGeady, Seamus Coleman and Stephen Quinn. 3 International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Switzerland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
25 March 2016; The Republic of Ireland team, back row, from left to right, Kevin Doyle, Shane Duffy, Darren Randolph, David Meyler, Ciaran Clark and Robbie Brady. Front row, from left to right, Alan Judge, Shane Long, Aidan McGeady, Seamus Coleman and Stephen Quinn. 3 International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Switzerland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

It understandably lacked the fanfare that accompanied Ireland’s last win at the Aviva Stadium, but tonight’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland will have provided Martin O’Neill plenty of food for thought.

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Above all else, this friendly, which is followed by the tie with Slovakia on Tuesday, allowed players on the fringes to audition for the Irish management in competitive settings. While it also permitted the established core group to get reacquainted.

The results were a mixed bag.

Winners

Shane Duffy

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Put his huge frame to good use early on as he rose highest to head Robbie Brady’s corner on for Ciaran Clark to open the scoring. The Blackburn centre half made a timely interception soon after  and, all in all, had an impressive outing but will need more time to fully adapt to this level.

However, Duffy is a monster of a man and possesses the sort of physicality that could nullify Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the opening game of the European Championships.

Shane Long

Long has made no secret of his desire to graduate from a livewire impact sub to Ireland’s first choice centre forward. The Southampton attacker was in from the off as part of an aggressive duo with Kevin Doyle, and will have done his ambitions no harm.

He pressed the Swiss defenders constantly and sought to win the ball back in the right areas, while perpetually offering himself as willing outlet to teammates all evening. Thumped the upright with a fine header in the first half.

Losers

Stephen Quinn

Having fallen behind Jeff Hendrick in the pecking order, the Reading midfielder made his first appearance since September’s 4-0 win over Gibraltar during the qualifying campaign. Contributed his customary zeal and endeavour but lacked creativity and looked shaky in the face of the Swiss’ aggressive pressing.

Kevin Doyle

The Colorado Rapids striker had not played for Ireland since October 2014 and would have been in high spirits starting up front with his buddy Shane Long.  Doyle put himself about for the 24 minutes he was on the pitch before pulling up with a deep gash on his leg. Very unlucky.

David Meyler

Like Quinn, the Hull midfielder was a willing workhorse and probably had a little more knowhow on the ball but he was relatively anonymous before being replaced just after the hour.

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Alan Judge

More than few eyebrows were raised in the realisation that the debutant had been stationed on the right of midfield, and not in a more central role. As such, Judge was peripheral for long stretches and even after swapping flanks with Aiden McGeady, the situation improved little.

Wes Hoolahan brimmed with guile upon his introduction which only served to magnify Judge’s lack of impact.

The Brentford man needed to conjure something seismic tonight but for a variety of reasons, some of which were self-created, he was unable to showcase his undoubted talents. May have missed his moment.

Non-movers

Darren Randolph

Injury or a ridiculous dip in form notwithstanding, the West Ham stopper will travel to France as O’Neill’s first choice keeper. Randolph had little to do as the Swiss largely flattered to deceive but was confident whenever called upon and brings a level of serenity to the Irish rear guard. 

Seamus Coleman

As close to a certainty as there is in the Irish squad. The Everton full back captained the side and ventured forward with great thrust while marshalling the right side admirably.

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Ciaran Clark

Took his goal very well and seemed to have forged a decent understanding with Duffy for the short time they have had together.

Aiden McGeady

Heeded his manager’s advice by leaving Everton on loan for more game with Sheffield Wednesday and was rewarded with a place on the left wing. McGeady began brightly and linked well with Robbie Brady but, as is his wont, the former Celtic attacker was often an outlier. O’Neill is a great believer in the Glaswegian so tonight may not have hindered his chances of going to France.

Robbie Brady

Brady started at left back which was not wholly expected given the presence in the squad of Johnny Hayes and Stephen Ward. That sweet left foot sent in the corner for Clarke’s decisive goal and, at this stage, the biggest decision the manger has to make regarding the Norwich export is where his best position is.

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