Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Having hoped to round off their 2022 home slate with a positive result against Norway, the Ireland squad will be hugely disappointed to come away from the game in the Aviva with a defeat tonight.
It was a game where the team performed well short of their best, especially in the first half. Their play lacked urgency, and despite dominating the possession stats, they never really troubled the Norwgian goal and they would go into the interval a goal down thanks to some sloppy defending from a set-piece.
A bit of a rally midway through the second period got the team back into the game via a goal from Alan Browne, but it was yet another set-piece failing that proved to be the difference between the sides.
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Speaking to the media after the game, Dara O'Shea said that Ireland could learn a thing or two from Norway in the way that they managed the game this evening.
Ultimately it's disappointing coming away from that game having lost it. We gave away two set-pieces and lost it.
We put a lot of time and effort into them. Today we just weren't at it, which is disappointing. We know ourselves as players what we need to do better there.
We have to look back at it and maybe just be that bit more streetwise and manage the game better, maybe not give the ball away in them areas. It's coming down to a collective, it's not any one player making a mistake.
I think Norway knew they were under the cosh a bit then and they tried to slow the game down by players going down and what not. Maybe we need to look at that as well and take a leaf out of their book when teams are on top of us.
Alan scored a great goal and you feel like the momentum is with us. To concede a set-piece again is disappointing.
While there are no qualification points on the line this month, it felt like a significant window for Ireland.
It will be Stephen Kenny's final opportunity to work with the squad ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, with some very tricky fixtures ahead once the group gets underway in March.
It will have helped to have almost a full selection to choose from, with O'Shea playing alongside Nathan Collins and John Egan in the back three for the third consecutive game. It is a partnership that he feels is coming along, with the commitment in the group not under question despite the not much being on the line this month.
I feel really comfortable playing alongside them two. They are great players and we gel well as a team. The more we play together, the better it's going to be. It's difficult coming from club level and straight into a different setup and style of play. For us to get things on the same level early doors on the week is something we need to keep doing...
I feel like I'm a leader on the pitch anyways. I have been growing up, I like to be vocal and help the lads out. If you look at our squad, there are a lot of leaders and players playing at high levels. We all add different bits to the team and help it in a positive way....
Everyone wants to stay around, we're all committed to this cause. We're here playing for our country and there's no bigger honour, I can't see why anybody would turn down that opportunity. The group we have here is a solid group. It's a great game to put things right again.
Ireland will head into the game against Malta on Sunday evening hoping to round off 2022 with a win.
Once the Euro 2024 campaign gets underway, there will be little room for error in a group containing both France and the Netherlands.