Saturday 25 November 2017

McClean and Hoolahan star in our Ireland player ratings after the win over Moldova

Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Ireland got the win they needed in their World Cup qualifying clash against Moldova and their performance was a big improvement on last Thursday’s dour 1-0 victory against Georgia in Dublin.

Here is how we rated Martin O’Neill’s men:

Darren Randolph - The West Ham keeper does not always time his bursts out of his box to perfection and his handling on crosses is also a concern at times. He didn’t have too much to do in this game, but he didn’t always look assured when he was called upon - 6

Read more: Ireland move into second in Group D after McClean's double secures all three points in Moldova

Seamus Coleman - Another wonderful performance from an Ireland skipper who is a leader by example as he grows into his new role. Vocal when he needs to be and a potent threat piling down the flank, he terrorised the Moldovan defence throughout and was a real attacking weapon throughout - 8

Shane Duffy - Woefully caught out for the Moldovan goal, Duffy’s lack of pace will be an area the opposition will try to target later in this World Cup qualifying campaign. His deficiencies were never likely to be too costly against the minnows from Moldova - 5

Ciaran Clark - An elegant presence at the back, Clark looks to be establishing himself at the heart of Martin O’Neill’s defence. Bigger tests will lie ahead, but he did a sound job against a limited Moldovan attack - 7

Stephen Ward - Much-maligned down the years, but this Burnely full-back is belatedly becoming one of Ireland’s more consistent Premier League performers. He was steady in his full back role, even if his haircut left a lot to be desired! - 7

Glenn Whelan - The Stoke man does is a decent midfield anchor and while he has always lacked guile and his passing is not international quality, he is not in the team to be a chief play-maker. With that in mind, he did his job in Moldova - 7

James McCarthy - A lack of match fitness may have been a factor in below par performances for McCarthy in the two Ireland matches against Georgia and Moldova, but we could have expected more from the Everton man against such mediocre opposition. We all want McCarthy to show a little more attacking intent, but he seems incapable of flicking that attacking switch - 6

Jonathan Walters - Not at his best again and like McCarthy, a lack of match fitness may be part of the reason for his muted efforts. Walters always gives everything to the cause, but he struggled to make an impact in the attacking third - 6

Wes Hoolahan - Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has never appeared to be convinced by Hoolahan’s qualities, but the Norwich midfielder confirmed his class once again with some valuable contributions on his return to the team. His pass to create Shane Long’s opening goal was a gem. Ireland are a better team when he is in the line-up - 8

James McClean - What a night for a player who has always showed a burning desire to make his mark in an Ireland shirt. His two goals capped a wonderfully energetic performance that was bursting with attacking menace. Moldova were wary of the West Bromwich Albion winger every time he got on the ball and all that was missing was his hat-trick strike - 9

Shane Long - Not since that famous night against Germany last year has Shane Long had a decent through ball fed to him on the international stage and just as he did against the world champions, Long delivered when as he latched on to Wes Hoolahan’s early pass. It was a worry to see him limp off in the second half - 7

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