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The Ireland Player Ratings From A Game Of Two Halves At The Aviva

The Ireland Player Ratings From A Game Of Two Halves At The Aviva
By Michael McCarthy
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We're still alive, anyway.

Ireland took the lead in just the second minute and it was clear Moldova would be easily put to the sword. We go to Cardiff on Monday night with hope at least, and hope is all we can ask for.

Martin O'Neill's team always seemed to have enough to get three points against a poor Moldovan team, but it's hard to gauge just how much this performance signals a change of form or confidence amongst the team. The second half was a tough watch, with not much happening for long periods, and Ireland failing to build on a genuinely decent first half performance. In the end though, the three points was all there was to play for, with all 2nd place seeding issues irrelevant against the bottom team in the group.

There was some performances that lifted the Lansdowne crowd on a generally straight forward night, and there were some players who will be looking over their shoulder ahead of Wales on Monday night.

Here's how they performed.


Ireland Moldova Player Ratings:

23. Darren Randolph - 7

It was always going to be a quiet night for the Irish keeper given the gulf in quality between the two teams. Made a spectacular save in the 27th minute, handled a dreadful backpass from David Meyler a couple of minutes later, and other than that, did what was asked of him.


His 7th clean sheet in an Irish jersey.


2. Cyrus Christie - 6

A much quieter night for Christie than here a month ago. Defensively, he didn't make any mistakes, while most of the Irish attack went down the left hand side. When he did attack, he looked dangerous at times, but was again missing the final ball.


Will face a much sterner test in three days time.


20. Shane Duffy - 7

Now established as our best central defender, Duffy's nuisance-ability in the opposition box probably makes him Ireland's best attacking weapon too. He caused chaos in just the second minute, setting up the opportunity for Daryl Murphy's opener.


He would do that several more times in the game without ever having the same effect.


3. Ciaran Clark - 6

As usual, Clark was solid, if unspectacular at the back. Made a few vital interceptions that went generally unnoticed. Annoyingly, Clark still had a tendency to hoof on a night that definitely didn't need it.


17. Stephen Ward - 8

Ward was key to both Irish goals tonight. His long throw created enough mayhem for the first, while he pinged a beautiful left footed cross from Murphy's second after 19 minutes.

He linked up well with the Irish midfield on the left hand side throughout the game, and didn't have any issues defensively. A continuation of a very good season for the Burnley man.



18. David Meyler (captain) - 5

Once again, Meyler held the midfield well and continued to show for the ball more than Glenn Whelan. In defence, he covered very well the only time Moldova looked really dangerous in the first half.

At times, he was sloppy in possession though, giving it away on a number of occasions, and once put his goalkeeper in real trouble with a terribly underhit backpass.


Probably wasn't involved enough with the ball in the second half.


13. Jeff Hendrick - 5

Jeff Hendrick returned to the team after injury and had a quiet game. He was on the ball regularly in the opening stages, and had one break in open field which set up Shane Long for one of his many missed chances.

Other than that though, Hendrick spent too long sat in beside Meyler in the centre of midfield letting the game pass him by. Against a team like Moldova, Ireland needed one of those two to create a lot more.



12. Callum O'Dowda - 8

What a performance from the 22 year old making his first compettitive start for Ireland.

Right from the very off, he looked composed on the ball. As the first half went on, he started to open up Moldova with quick feet and quick thinking. He set up Shane Long for a chance he should have taken in the 15th minute, and came more and more into the game.

O'Dowda and Wes Hoolahan in particular linked up very well, and he always looked a threat on the left hand side of the field. The Bristol City man also took over a lot of the set piece duty left open by Robbie Brady's suspension, and did a fine job.

Along with the rest of the Irish team, he didn't do much in the second half when the game was one.


14. Wes Hoolahan - 8

Why does he have to be 35?

Hoolahan was too good for this opposition, spraying the ball around the pitch and creating so much space for his teammates. He always seems to have so much time on the ball, something that is exactly the opposite of almost every other Irish player.

His inch perfect 20 yard pass to Ward which led to Ireland's second goal was a sublime piece of skill and sums up what Wes offers this team. Who else could create that space?

Shockingly, he wasn't taken off until the 77th minute. Wes must start in Cardiff, but it's doubtful he will.


8. Daryl Murphy - 9


At the age of 34, tonight was Daryl Murphy's international coming out party. After so many games without a goal for his country, he ended the drought with a huge goal in the first game of the campaign - a last minute equaliser in Serbia. Tonight, it took him less than two minutes to get off the mark, finishing well with a left footed volley after a Ward long throw caused mayhem in the box.

His second goal, and his third goal for Ireland, was a spectacular header just 17 minutes later. After a beautiful cross from Ward, Murphy headed across the goal and gave the keeper no chance.

Around the field, Murphy worked hard, won lots of possession and was always dangerous in attack. Currently enjoying one of the richest veins of form of his career, he now must start for Ireland in Wales on Monday.


9. Shane Long - 4

Not Shane Long's night.

A shocking miss into an open goal in the 62nd minute summed it all up. One goal in his last 42 games for club and country, as George Hamilton pointed out on commentary, and you could see why.

Long worked his arse off all night again, but was once again found wanting in front of goal. Following a run of games at club level, we hoped he would rediscover his touch but at the moment it just doesn't seem to be there.

Twice should have scored in the first half when set up by O'Dowda and by Hendrick. You can't help but think filling his boots tonight would have been the perfect lift going to Cardiff. It wasn't to be and he looked somewhat dejected when coming off after 82 minutes.


Substitutes - N/A

Aiden McGeady, Harry Arter and Sean Maguire didn't do much in their short time on the pitch. It's surprising in such a straight forward win that O'Neill didn't use his bench earlier and save some legs for Monday. That said, one of the highlights of the night was the arrival of Maguire for his debut. The announcement of his name shook the Aviva, and he received a huge ovation. Hopefully, it's an expectation he can live up to in future campaigns.



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