Tuesday 17 October 2017

We could be praying for a Georgian Gary Mackay - Six things we learned from Ireland's win over Moldova

Callum O'Dowda of Republic of Ireland in action against Alexandru Gaţcan of Moldova during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Callum O'Dowda of Republic of Ireland in action against Alexandru Gaţcan of Moldova during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group D match between Republic of Ireland and Moldova at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Brennan

What a night we have in store on Monday in Cardiff. Here's what we learned from tonight's 2-0 victory over Moldova.

1. Now we know what we have to do - beat Wales and we'll be in a play-off as long as Scotland don't win their qualifier against Slovenia in Slovenia on Sunday. If the Jocks take the three points, it'll need a crazy set of results to come our way to get a play-off.

2. Callum O'Dowda has got what the the Mexicans call 'cojones'. Making a first competitive start, the Bristol City midfielder was all flicks and touches, trying to poke holes in the Moldovan defence with deft passes. O'Dowda showed an excellent attitude and might well be a player for the Euro 2020 journey that Martin O'Neill has now signed up to steer.

3. Shane Long can't buy a goal right now. As ever, the Tipperary man gave everything at the Aviva, but he put two great chances inches past the post and saw a potential tap-in taken off his toe by a visiting defender. You have those type of nights as a striker and Long is having too many of them right now for his own good.

4. David Meyler might well have played himself into a starting role in Cardiff on Monday. Nominated captain for the night, Meyler was busy and committed and the Hull City player could be the main midfield minder now that Glenn Whelan's international race seems run.

5. Moldova were barely a cut above League of Ireland level at times, but their players did like a shot when the chance came. A brilliant first-half drive from Sergiu Platica brought a wonderful, finger-tip, save out of Darren Randolph.

6. A second path to the 2018 World Cup Finals opened up last night when a late Marco Arnautovic goal gave Austria a 3-2 over Serbia. Now, if Ireland beat Wales and the unlikely result of Georgia beating Serbia in Belgrade on Monday both came to pass then Ireland would be bound for Russia as group winners. Is there a Georgian Gary Mackay out there somewhere?

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