'It's a terrible day for Irish soccer' - Eamon Dunphy assesses abysmal performance in Georgia
Eamon Dunphy believes Ireland have surrendered the initiative in the race for a top two position in Group D to Wales after an awful display in 1-1 draw with Georgia in Tbilisi.
Valeri Kazaishvili put the brakes on the Republic of Ireland's charge towards the World Cup finals.
The midfielder cancelled out Shane Duffy's early opener, the first goal of his senior international career, before the break to leave the Republic hanging on on a steamy night in Tbilisi.
Ireland boss Martin O'Neill had admitted before kick-off that the Group D clash was not so much a "tricky" affair as a "really, genuinely difficult" one, and so it proved as Georgia did everything within their powers to secure a first win of the campaign.
The Republic, who had won all eight previous meetings between the sides, started strongly and ended on the front foot with three out-and-out strikers on the pitch, but did too little in between to warrant anything more than a draw.
Indeed, the Georgians among a small but noisy crowd at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena will feel a point was significantly more than the visitors deserved, although substitute Aiden McGeady wasted a glorious opportunity to win it at the death. It was a different story to three years ago, when a late McGeady goal at the same stadium secured three points.
Ireland headed for home knowing Tuesday's clash with Serbia at the Aviva Stadium has assumed even greater proportions as a result of their result in Tbilisi, and that there is still a long way to go in the group in which they sit second, behind their next opponents.
Dunphy was bemused by the fact that Wes Hoolahan wasn't sprung from the bench and once again questioned Glenn Whelan's position in the team.
"We should have (been beaten). We were very lucky to get a point," he told RTE after the game.
"It was a shocking performance and we've let Wales back into the group. Wales play Austria in Cardiff tonight and they'll be so happy with that. They're bang back in it and we have to go there for our last game.
"I think Ronnie (Whelan) said it was the worst performance from Ireland in years.
"It was gut-wrenching to watch that and couple of things became clear... we shouldn't be playing without Wes Hoolahan when he's fit, we really don't need Glenn Whelan shuffling around doing nothing. We can't afford that in front of the back four.
"Most importantly of all, it's the mindset and the culture set by the coaching team of O'Neill and Keane if he says anything.
"You've got to pass the ball, you've got to play in the right areas of the pitch.
You can sit back and let a pretty mediocre team come at you time and time again.
"We talked about leadership before the match but leadership is not just about making tackles and pointing here and shouting at people... it's getting on the ball and looking for the ball when someone else is on the ball, supporting who is on the ball. All of that was missing.
"It's a terrible day for Irish soccer, that is not the way to play soccer."
It doesn't work and you make yourself look very foolish. It was shocking.