David McGoldrick can kick on after breaking scoring duck - Kevin Doyle
KEVIN Doyle believes that David McGoldrick’s first goal for Ireland can kick-start a run of form in front of goal – even if the Sheffield United man will be denied the chance of a swift follow-up after being ruled out of Tuesday’s friendly against Bulgaria with a shoulder injury.
Team-mate Callum Robinson, who visibly suffered the effects of a minor hamstring strain in last night’s 1-1- draw against the Swiss in the Group D Euro 2020 qualifier, will also miss out.
Nevertheless, with crucial clashes to come next month with an away double header in Tblisi against Georgia and Geneva against Switzerland, Doyle feels that McGoldrick’s strike, the first from any of the forwards in McCarthy’s squad, will be a significant confidence boost for both him and the squad.
“It took me four games to score my first goal and I was anxious even then,” said Doyle; it took McGoldrick 11 games, albeit five years, following a fitful relationship with previous boss Martin O’Neill.
“It’s a bit different for him because it’s later in his career but you could see the relief when he got it.
“It hadn’t affected his overall game in recent times which was a positive. But as a striker you want to score and Mick has put paid faith in him and he wanted to re-pay that.
“He looks fitter and stronger, he’s quicker even and he’s winning those difficult balls down the channels that we play so it’s looking good for him.
“It was hard work for Callum. He was defending at a lot of set-pieces but Mick was encouraging him to move forward.”
Doyle’s renewed faith in the team has been predicated upon the shift in mind-set, if not quality; the calibre of Irish player cannot change, but his attitude can.
“That was the most encouraging thing, Mick was pressing the lads forward and we closed them down,” adds Doyle.
“It left us open at times but it meant we were able to create a few chances of our own. We always got people forward; we weren’t conceding half the pitch as we’ve often done over the years.
“They had chances but they never looked like taking them. Sure, their goal was beautiful to look at and people might say we would never score a goal like that.
“But flip it around. They would never be able to score a goal like ours. It’s Ireland, it’s what we do. We beat ourselves up sometimes.
“We’re actually suited to the pressing game, running hard and working. It’s better for us than just sitting back.
“I don’t think we were doing too badly before we went 1-0 behind. It just happens. We were in the game and every time we went forward, we carried a threat.
“There was no massive difference to how we played after they scored. We’d already made one substitution. You’ll always have a lull in a game and maybe they took advantage of that.
“It surprised me how we played, in a good way. That we were on the front foot and didn’t just take it for 90 minutes as we have done in the past.
“We looked organised in doing it. We created chances and took one. The crowd buzzed off it as well.”
Doyle feels Ireland are in a good place in terms of qualifying, even if they must navigate a potentially perilous play-off against a putatively stronger seed.
“But first, I’d be worried going to Georgia and Mick has had a Macedonia before. We need to make sure we have something to play for against Denmark and Switzerland.
“We’ve obviously had one bad result against Denmark before but if you take Christian Eriksen out of the team they’re pretty ordinary.
“Switzerland are good but there wasn’t a massive gulf. We finished stronger.
“We’d have taken this position at the start of the year, we’re basically all level on points. The players feel very confident now having played the two main rivals.
“And I’m more confident. If we’d bored everyone to tears last night, I’d be worried. We won’t mind doing it over in their place if it means we get the result because then we really have something to play for.
“And then we can be confident against Denmark because we know it’s within touching distance for us then. But at least there’s a play-off option there.”
Kevin Doyle is a Ladbrokes ambassador