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4 Moments That Sum Up One Of The Great Individual Displays In An Ireland Jersey

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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For too long James McCarthy has been the scapegoat for disappointing Irish performances. There was such a formulaic pattern to RTÉ's football coverage over the past year or so, that it wouldn't surprise us if the Aviva's dwindling attendance numbers were actually boosted by fans who just wanted to get away from hearing the same old spiel.

It would begin with the belief that we should be doing more, before the parting shot that 'McCarthy in particular needs a big game'. From there, the Everton man would pretty much play the game that Martin O'Neill asked of him and the knives were out as if it was the only reason Ireland failed to sparkle.

Don't get us wrong, McCarthy has had some average games for Ireland but his supposed lethargy in a green jersey has always been over-exaggerated. A lot of fans see a player who's linked with £20 million moves and expect him to take the game by the scruff of the neck and be breaking into the box every other other minute. That's not who McCarthy is, or at least it's not who's he's become.

He's shown in the past (Man United at Goodison last season) that he has it in him but rather than dynamism in the final third, it's McCarthy's football brain from a sitting position that has become his greatest asset. When we face the likes of Georgia, it's very difficult for that aspect of his game to shine. Against Germany however, it was blatantly clear just how valuable he is to the Irish setup.

We don't want to get into a debate about the man of the match award as it's such an miniscule part of monumental night. But if we did we'd say it was a travesty that McCarthy was overlooked. Wes Hoolahan was once again fantastic but it's at least plausible that the result would have stayed the same without him, without McCarthy there's not a hope in hell that would have happened.

In the first half Hoolahan and Brady were invaluable to to the Irish cause. While the likes of Christie, Keogh and Ward settled into the game, the Norwich pair looked a class apart in possession of the ball. Watching Brady berate his defensive teammates for knocking it long was testament to just how assured he looked against the world champions.

Similarly, Hoolahan somehow managed to be Ireland's best attacking outlet and a crucial part of a solid midfield. McCarthy, meanwhile, put in the kind of shift at the base of midfield that's difficult to highlight but can't be overestimated.


It may not have always been that deep and apparent but, in the first half, McCarthy's game management and ability to read the play was one of the most beautiful things the Aviva Stadium has seen. And in the second half it only got better.


This, on the hour mark, summed up his night better than any other passage of play. The pressing never stopped for 94 minutes and when he won it back, he was coolness personified.

You may say we're getting ahead of ourselves and we're well aware that he'll still have his detractors but for all the German inefficiency in attack, the primary reason Ireland finished that game with a clean sheet was seemingly innocuous moments like this.


It may not have been as apparent as Richard Dunne in Moscow or Paul McGrath in Giants Stadium but McCarthy's performance last night deserves similar plaudits in years to come. He did something very special against the Germans and we sincerely hope that's not forgotten any time soon.


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