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Trapattoni tactics turn the Green Army away

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Richard Dunne. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

Richard Dunne. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

Richard Dunne. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

RICHARD DUNNE never had an easier run out in his life. But who's counting? He's back and if nothing else came from this kickabout with Georgia, his appearance at the Aviva lifted the heart.

Richard Dunne never had an easier run out in his life. But who's counting? He's back and if nothing else came from this kickabout with Georgia, his appearance at the Aviva lifted the heart.

He barely got to kick the ball in the time he was given but the wisest course for him will be the slowest of slow comebacks and by the time August rolls around, he is ready for battle.

Only time will tell whether Dunne's difficult rehab and recovery from the hip/groin injury he so graphically described over the weekend is successful but for now, it is just good to know that he's still in with a shout and still fighting to preserve his career.

Very few people turned up to see Dunne's comeback, the lowest attendance ever to turn up for a game at Lansdowne Road involving Ireland if the eye wasn't playing tricks.

There was plenty to see. Four goals, a young Ireland team and the possibility that Robbie Keane might equal Shay Given's cap record was surely worth the price of a ticket but the vast majority of Ireland fans decided it was not.

Austerity is one thing but this was something else entirely. Allowing for the fact that the Dubs were on manoeuvre in Croke Park the previous day and the impact that might have had on the roll-up-on-the-day brigade, this the type of attendance which must have hurt financially.

To the naked eye, the crowd looked to be about 10,000 and you have to scroll back to 1985 when Eoin Hand was on his last lap as Ireland manager for numbers as bad as that.

 

Morgue

In fact, it was a 4-1 defeat by Denmark in the final game of the qualification for Mexico 86 which ended Hand's career as an international manager.

On the surface, it was about results but a big component of the FAI's decision to begin a search which would end up, accidentally, with Jack Charlton as the new man, was the fact that Lansdowne Road was like a morgue for the Denmark game.

While Trapattoni remains boss, this will be the case. People are not stupid and they have seen the type of football he creates with these Irish players and will continue to vote with their feet while he hangs around.

He picked a team which carried a distinct frisson of freshness and youth but they lined up the same as they always do against Georgia and nobody expected a revolution.

Georgia owned the ball for the first 20 minutes and it took McCarthy's determination to own midfield and Shane Long's physical strength to change that.

Long has continued where he left off at Wembley and caused all sorts of problems for the Georgian defence and ultimately for goalkeeper George Loria.

Two or three times Long broke through the defensive line and Loria stood in his way but the third time, he stretched out a leg on the edge of his box and shortly afterwards, was walking disconsolately towards the dressing rooms.

Whatever chance this game had of provided even minimum entertainment evaporated at that point and Trapattoni was probably happy with that even though it took far too long to break the reduced Georgians down.

Given more space, Hoolahan began to weave his magic and find a way to work with McCarthy who was by far the dominant figure in midfield during the first-half.

The breakthrough came via a set-piece and a sweet swinging free-kick from James McClean out on the right edge of the box which found Richard Keogh at the back post and he rattled the net.

Shortly after the break, Ireland hit number two and the game was done. Hoolahan threaded a clever pass to James McClean who whipped a ball towards the six-yard box and a sharp run made by half-time substitute Robbie Keane.

The ball clipped his heel and squirted to Simon Cox – who had done practically nothing to justify his existence up to that point – but he made no mistake.

A queue was forming outside the Georgian box at this stage and with Trapattoni emptying his bench, Conor Sammon popped up with a nice square pass to give Keane a tap-in – his first since he scored from the spot in Kazakhstan.

With three minutes left on the clock, Keane took his personal total up to 56 goals. It came when Jeff Hendrick pounced on a loose defensive clearance and slipped a clever pass into the box to the feet of Ireland's top striker.

Keane doesn't normally miss with the goal at his mercy and he finished with some ease, wrapping up the scoring and another decent result for Trapattoni.


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