Roy Curtis: High, late, horrific and cowardly - Seamus Coleman took a grotesque cheap shot
Here are five things we learned from Ireland's tense 0-0 draw with Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
1. Seamus Coleman took a grotesque cheap shot
Ireland’s captain was carted from the battlefield on a stretcher, sucking on oxygen, clearly distressed, the Donegal full-back will not play football for some time
Neil Taylor’s violent lunge was a stain on the occasion - high, late, ugly, horrific and cowardly. The assault on Coleman's right leg was so upsetting that TV directors opted against showing the replay.
With Everton in pursuit of a European spot, Ronald Koeman will struggle to contain his fury when he reviews the footage.
2. James McClean paid eloquent tribute to Ryan McBride
McClean – passionate, industrious, high-octane - invests every fibre of himself each time he clocks in for a shift on the factory floor.
For him, wearing the number five shirt as a tribute to his tragically fallen former Derry team-mate, this was an emotional and poignant night.
He marked the occasion with a performance laden-down with his better qualities: Energetic, conscientious, belligerent, the traits of an admirable, likeable professional.
3. Ireland without Wes and Robbie lack killing flair
Wes Hoolahan is Ireland’s creative touchstone, the cerebral and artistic epicentre of Martin O’Neill’s principally artisan, workaday emerald platoon; Robbie Brady is a difference maker, his left foot the most frequent conjuror of whatever brilliance this team might summon.
Stripped of their twin innovators, Ireland were bankrupt of authentic inspiration, devoid of game-changing subtlety. As a spectacle, this was ugly, a study in tedioum, devoid of even a thimble of artistic merit. A distant relation of the beautiful game.
4. Glass half full: A point gained
Even if the analysts of great football performance will hardly be detained too long by any review of this prosaic affair, still it can be viewed as a pragmatic triumph for Martin O’Neill.
Stripped of half a dozen players, dealing with the emotional fallout of Coleman's injury, Ireland effectively neutered the European Championship semi-finalists, denied Gareth Bale - also fortunate not to be red carded - the opportunity to deliver a devastating sword stroke.
So, with the campaign entering the home straight, qualification is tantalisingly within reach. Wales, though, are sinking in quicksand: Four points adrift of their Celtic cousins and reliant on the charity of others.
5. Glass half empty: An opportunity lost
Wales played a quarter of this fixture a man light. They were vulnerable and exposed, their world toppling off its axis in the aftermath of Taylor’s red card.
Ireland, though, could not locate the game-changing moment which might have propelled them onwards toward Russia. With Serbia taking three points in Georgia, the balance of power in the group has, perhaps, shifted.