Football

In 12 Minutes, Aaron Connolly Proved He Has To Start In Switzerland

In 12 Minutes, Aaron Connolly Proved He Has To Start In Switzerland

It was obvious from the minute he came onto the pitch. After 78 minutes of absolutely dire football from Ireland, a change was needed. In all honesty, it probably should have come 20 minutes before that stage.

Ireland were awful today. You can say what you want about the qualities Georgia possess, but there is a reason they are ranked 91st in the world. This is a game that teams with qualification aspirations need to win. It really is as simple as that.

Ireland did not look like one of those teams today. They had 46% possession, with Georgia completing over 100 passes more than Mick McCarthy's side.

We didn't have an attack of substance for almost the entire game. It was genuinely painful to watch.

Questions now need to be asked. Ireland's tactics were never going to lead to a good attacking performance. They kicked it long, failed to string any passes together or play with any sort of purpose.

In terms of team selection, we knew exactly what was coming from Mick McCarthy. He made three changes, but all were enforced. He is loyal to his players, perhaps to a fault. James McClean was poor once again today, Jeff Hendrick as well. Both played the full 90 minutes.

The only bright spark from this game was a 19-year old from Galway.

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In 12 minutes, Aaron Connolly did more than any other attacking player in a green jersey. He showed the type of intent going forward that was sorely lacking before his introduction.

The Brighton man is a real talent. He's ready to play at this level, and has done more this season than the majority of players in the squad. The fact that he wasn't in the original squad speaks volumes.

Connolly had his first shot with a few minutes left on the clock, pulling a save out of the Georgian goalkeeper for the first time.

In injury time, he came so close to rescuing a result for Ireland. His pace burned the opposition defence, and nearly buried one in the top corner.

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It was more than any of his teammates managed to contribute.

Why he wasn't introduced earlier is anybody's guess. The game was crying out for a player like Connolly, it was glaringly obvious. It's not as if he would have disrupted any sort of positive play for Ireland.

All of this leads to the Switzerland game. Aaron Connolly has to start.

This isn't some sort of pandering to include a young player because he is just something different, he is absolutely there on merit.

We are sure Mick McCarthy will have other ideas. If we had to put our money on it, we would guess that Enda Stevens returning at left back will be the only change.

If this is the case, we do need to ask questions. We understand that Mick is only here for one qualification campaign, but that isn't an excuse on this occasion. Even on a one game basis, Aaron Connolly is the best option.

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He proved that much tonight, even if it was only 12 minutes on the pitch.

Experience counts for a lot, but talent matters even more. There is a real sense that we often do not have our best players on the pitch. John Egan was the perfect example of that earlier in the campaign, and he was our man-of-the-match today after finally getting an opportunity.

Certain players seem to only be in the team because they have already been there for a long time. It's not the type of atmosphere that breeds positive results.

Just give Aaron Connolly an opportunity to make an impact. We doubt he will let any of us down.

SEE ALSO: Player Ratings As Dire Ireland Let Golden Opportunity Slip In Georgia

Gary Connaughton

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