'I said to them, 'What's wrong with you?' - we've got the points that we wanted to get' - Mick McCarthy rallied troops
Points tally pleases Irish boss despite drab display as he backs his players to improve against 'better' opponents
Mick McCarthy has told his Ireland players to forget about their Gibraltar frustrations and focus on their positive points total.
The Ireland boss admitted that his squad were down in the dumps after a drab 2-0 victory over the minnows at the Aviva Stadium last night.
He sought to lift spirits by pointing out that his team have accrued 10 points from a possible 12 which was their target at the start of the campaign.
McCarthy declined to expand on his target from the remaining four matches, but suggested that September's visit of Switzerland might actually be more conducive to a positive display.
"I've got a bunch of lads in there who felt like they lost," said McCarthy. "The dressing room is all quiet in there.
"I said to them, 'What's wrong with you?' - we've got the points that we wanted to get. When the draw came out, ten points from the first four games is what I thought (was the target).
"I would like us to see score more goals and I was frustrated given the amount of crosses we got into the box.
"We've played pretty poorly twice against Gibraltar. We've played well against the better sides. I doubt Switzerland will come here and play the way Gibraltar did by sitting in. It will be a more open game and I would expect us to play as well as we did against Georgia and Denmark."
The manager defended his decision to make just two substitutions in the match, and said his decision to bring on Robbie Brady ahead of Callum O'Dowda was vindicated by the fact that the more experienced player bagged the insurance goal in injury-time to add to a first-half own goal from Joseph Chipolina.
He indicated that a first cap for promising West Ham player Josh Cullen was ruled off the agenda because the game wasn't done and dusted at 1-0.
And he denied that the breakdown of the team bus on the way to the stadium had any impact on the performance, pointing out that the Gibraltar team had made their way to the match after playing in Tbilisi just three days earlier.
Visiting coach Julio Cesar Ribar was diplomatic when asked if he thought Ireland had the ability to qualify for the finals ahead of Denmark and Switzerland. Denmark hammered Georgia 5-1 last night.
"Ireland have everything they need to fight against higher ranked nations," he said. "They have all the tools to be there or thereabouts. There's no doubt Ireland have a great team, we saw that against Denmark. We didn't let them play today."
The lack of goals remains a concern as the drought for McCarthy's strikers continued for another lacklustre 90 minutes.
"Yeah, obviously it's annoying," said Callum Robinson, the one bright spark on a dreadfully dull evening for the home side's supporters.
"We want goals, that's our bread and butter, any forward player wants goals. But the results are the most important thing. We need to get to the Euros, that's the main thing.
"We know chances will come and that we'll put them away.
"I don't think it will affect our confidence. I'm not one of the experienced ones really, but we have got some experienced players here who have probably been through it in their careers.
"I can't see it affecting them. The quality is very high.
"We know in training, people don't see the quality we've got.
"The main thing is results and that's what we are getting. There is no negative in that."
Twenty-nine attempts and only seven on target clearly reflects an absence of an end product but, compared to a year ago, there is at least a sense of a production line.
"It used to be creating chances was a problem but I think we're creating chances," conceded Enda Stevens.
"We hit the post there, had a few chances from a few crosses and corners.
"I think goals will come the more we get in those positions and the more chances we create."