Thursday 20 September 2018

Former Ireland star picks out three standout players in spirited draw in Poland

11 September 2018; Callum O'Dowda of Republic of Ireland in action against Grzegorz Krychowiak of Poland during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
11 September 2018; Callum O'Dowda of Republic of Ireland in action against Grzegorz Krychowiak of Poland during the International Friendly match between Poland and Republic of Ireland at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Former Ireland midfielder Matt Holland believes the Ireland players confirmed they are still behind the under-fire management duo of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane in tonight's spirited 1-1 draw in Poland.

Aiden O'Brien's opening goal looked set to fire Ireland to an away win in Wroclaw, but a late equaliser from Mateusz Klich salvaged a draw for the home side on a night when Holland saluted Ireland's unsung heroes.

"There were question marks over whether the players were still working for Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, but they answered that," stated Holland on talkSPORT. "That was a committed performance and they were three minutes away from the perfect evening.

"Once they scored, Ireland took a step back and they sensed a victory was there if they played with caution.

"They tried to hold on to what they had, stepped too far back and in the end, Poland picked them off with that late goal.

"Poland's goal was a classy move and they deserved that goal given the balance of play, but there is a lot for Martin O'Neill to take out of that performance.

"O'Neill and Keane will feel much better after that. They changed the system and got a good reaction from the players.

"The difficulty will be trying to build on this as I'm not sure this system with three at the back will work when O'Neill has his Premier League stars back next month."

Holland picked out three players for praise after the draw in Poland, with scorer O'Brien a natural selection in his list.

"Aiden O'Brien was fantastic tonight and I also liked what I saw from Callum O'Dowda and Shaun Williams," added Holland.

"Williams was terrific in the first half with his energy and the way he nicked balls off people and O'Dowda was excellent in the second half.

"Then you would pick out O'Brien as Ireland's best player as it is hard playing up front in a team that will not provide quality service. His goal was a wonderful moment."

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