Ireland’s summer exam results
Daniel McDonnell finds reasons to be cheerful as he marks players' report cards
WITH the exception of the MLS-based Robbie Keane and Darren O'Dea, the summer holidays officially started for Giovanni Trapattoni and his Irish squad after their 2-0 defeat by Spain in New York.
While they spent a large part of the game chasing shadows, a battling performance in contrast to the lame Euro 2012 defeat at the hands of an all-conquering Spanish side ensured that the group left Yankee Stadium in reasonably good spirits.
Trapattoni used 27 players across the four games in this summer window, selecting strong teams for the draw with England at Wembley and qualifying win over Faroes and then delving into his large squad for the thrashing of Georgia and the educational lesson at the hands of the world and European champions.
For some players, it has represented a step forward. For others, it has failed to really ignite their international careers.
Here are our ratings of their performances over the course of 17 days.
SEAMUS COLEMAN (8)
Arguably the best player on pitch at Wembley, nd performed really well against Spain too. Strangely muted in first half against Faroes, but the sky is the limit for Killybegs man.
SHANE LONG (8)
Outstanding against England, producing a display that should cement his place as Ireland's central striker. Also forced the sending off against Georgia that made the game comfortable.
DAVID FORDE (8)
Has grown in stature with the proof of that coming at Wembley. He also stood up to Spain, making some fine stops, and is looking every inch the No 1. It's quite an ascension.
ROBBIE KEANE (7)
Did a lot of chasing without much reward against Spain and England, but nabbed five goals in the other two games and became his country's most capped player. Not a bad return.
WES HOOLAHAN (7)
Shame that he wasn't involved in the two higher-profile games, but he did enough in the matches with Georgia and Faroe Islands to demonstrate his quality and make the case for involvement in a more advanced role come the autumn.
STEPHEN QUINN (7)
A late call who has done enough to secure a regular squad place. He was really bright in second half at Yankee Stadium and won praise from captain Keane. With Premier League football to come, he'll enjoy the summer.
JAMES MCCARTHY (7)
He rose to the occasion at Wembley, producing a controlled display and Trapattoni reckoned he was Ireland's star man in the Georgia rout. Mixed bag against the Spanish that will stand to his development.
JOHN O'SHEA (7)
Controlled display in the England fixture and had reasonably little to do against the Faroes. Family bereavement ruled him out of the US trip.
JON WALTERS (7)
Solid shift at Wembley in a wide role and also caused the Faroes a few problems before being allowed to miss New York.
JEFF HENDRICK (7)
Made a huge step forward in his career over this fortnight, even if he found it very hard going for 45 minutes against Spain. Excellent in dying stages of Georgia match and also got a taste of Wembley too.
ANDY KEOGH (6)
He impressed in the first half against Spain, helping to frustrate the world champions in an unfamiliar role. That was better than his contribution in the Georgian fixture.
CONOR SAMMON (6)
Came off the bench to make goals for Keane against Georgia and the Faroes. The Spanish match was a different experience; missed a sitter borne from his own endeavour and produced a fine pass for McClean yet he struggled to get a kick for long periods.
GLENN WHELAN (6)
The Stoke midfielder was also given a rest for America on account of a long, hard season and he was reasonable against the Faroes. Worked hard in Wembley and retains place in Trapattoni's affections.
AIDEN MCGEADY (6)
Received some stick for his performance against the Faroes, but he made one goal and could have created another. Honest enough to admit that he is yet to really sparkle in green shirt. Mixed display against England.
JAMES MCCLEAN (6)
Will be disappointed that he only started once, the cruise over the Georgians, where he created two goals. His introduction on Tuesday night gave Spain a fright. Work to do to push McGeady out of the first-team picture.
RICHARD KEOGH (6)
Scored a goal against the Georgians and was praised by Trapattoni, but ended up being the only outfield player to travel to America who didn't see any action. It is touch and go as to whether he will make the next squad.
DARREN O'DEA (6)
Had to wait until the Yankee Stadium until he got onto the pitch and did reasonably well, although he could have perhaps reacted better to Soldado's opener. Returns to MLS action now.
STEPHEN KELLY (6)
After his well-documented troubles with Trapattoni in the past, he appeared in three out of four matches which isn't a bad return, although Marc Wilson's injury was the reason. Would clearly be happier on the opposite flank.
SEAN ST LEDGER (6)
Won't be happy with role in English equaliser at Wembley and might have reacted better to Spain's second too, but he was otherwise strong at Yankee Stadium and was barely tested by the Faroes.
DAMIEN DELANEY (6)
Came in on a high after securing promotion with Crystal Palace and left on a low after waiting until injury-time to figure in the US. Competent outing against Georgia.
DARREN RANDOLPH (6)
Restricted to final 15 minutes of Spanish joust and made one top-drawer save before Mata squeezed second goal under his body. Big move to Birmingham will boost his profile.
PAUL MCSHANE (6)
Made it clear that he doesn't like playing at full-back and it's hard for him to match up to what Coleman offers in that department but applied himself well to Spanish challenge.
KEIREN WESTWOOD (6)
Between the sticks for the Georgia game and had very little to do. Forde has left him in the shade and needs a move or else Randolph will too.
SIMON COX (5)
Did manage to score against Georgia, but failed to really set the world alight otherwise and, while he scrapped in the face of Spanish dominance, he wandered offside at a crucial moment.
RICHARD DUNNE (5)
Came in for 25 minutes against Georgia and did little wrong, although it was hardly the most strenuous examination of his fitness and fact he didn't build on it is disappointing.
MARC WILSON (5)
Troubled by injury and he was quite poor in the win over the Faroe Islands, clearly feeling the effects of his problems. Will enjoy his rest.
DAVID MEYLER (4)
Considering he wanted to make a big breakthrough, this has been a disappointing fortnight for the Hull man who was restricted to just five minutes against Spain. Clubmates Quinn and Hendrick look to have overtaken him.