Football

Player Ratings As Three Irishmen Sparkle On Their International Debut

Player Ratings As Three Irishmen Sparkle On Their International Debut

Gary Connaughton reporting from the Aviva Stadium

Well, that livened up a bit towards the end. After 60 minutes of fairly dire stuff, some big impacts off the bench ensured Ireland prevailed over Bulgaria on a 3-1 scoreline.

It was a strong display from a few players, with three debutants especially impressive. Here's how we rated the performances on the night.

 Mark Travers - 6

His distribution was excellent in the first half, picking out some lovely long range passes. The only real attempt on his goal was the penalty, which was pretty much unstoppable.

Cyrus Christie - 5

Got forward well in the opening, but he was unable to unlock the Bulgarian defence with a delivery of real substance.

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It was his error that led to the Bulgarian penalty, where he needlessly gave the ball away in a dangerous area. His attacking output dipped as the game went on.

John Egan - 7

Looked incredibly assured in possession anytime he got on the ball, with some lovely cushioned first time passes to move Ireland up the pitch. Conceded the penalty, but he was given little option after Christie's mistake.

He marshalled the defence well and made a couple of vital blocks. Looked comfortable in his role as captain.

Kevin Long - 7

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Wasn't asked any questions at all throughout the game, largely following the instructions of his defensive partner.

Took his header extremely well at the other end. He did everything that was asked of him.

Conor Hourihane - 6

Was never really tested defensively, but looked good going forward from an unfamiliar left back position. Was helped out by Egan, who ensured Hourihane stayed in the correct position defensively.

Put a couple of decent balls into the penalty area which were not met by Irish attackers. A decent showing considering where he was stationed in the team.

Josh Cullen - 8

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Dropped deep to look for the ball of the centre back pairing, spraying some nice long passes at times. He also pushed forward at times, getting on the end of crosses into the box on a couple of occasions.

Calm on the ball and sturdy in the tackle, it was an impressive debut for the West Ham man. He looks like a big future prospect in the Irish midfield.

Alan Browne - 7

Looked really good on the ball, trying to go forward at every opportunity. Took the ball down in crowded areas and played the ball on the floor, when many others would have booted it clear.

Got his first international goal with a tap in from a yard. We would certainly be intrigued to see how he fared in an Ireland team that had less possession, but the Preston man put in a good shift.

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Alan Judge - 5

Was largely on the periphery of the game, failing to get in between the lines as Mick McCarthy would have hoped.

Playing in a midfield three, he seems more suited to a role out wide. After making appearances off the bench in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, this was a disappointing outing.

Callum O'Dowda - 7

Was probably Ireland's most potent attacking threat in the early stages, showing some clever movement in the final third. He also worked hard off the ball, turning the ball over on a few occasions.

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O'Dowda looked a threat whenever he got on the ball, and was the only Irishman that looked he could create something when in possession.

Ronan Curtis - 6

Looked lively at times, but his final ball let him down on a number of occasions. His cross come shot in just before the interval was the closest Ireland came to opening the scoring in the first half.

It was his shot that led to Ireland's opener. He looks good when running at the defence, but his decision making certainly needs a bit of polishing.

Scott Hogan - 6

Struggled to get any joy from a tightly packed Bulgarian defence, although there was little service from his team mates.

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Was unlucky not to open the scoring, and was incredibly unselfish in squaring the ball to Alan Browne to score the first goal of the night.

Substitutions

Jack Byrne - 8

 

Looked really lively after coming on, getting on plenty of ball in the final third. Showed the bit of trickery that was often lacking before his introduction, and got the assist for Long's goal.

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He played the ball forward at every opportunity, looking classy in possession. In hindsight he really should have started.

James Collins - 7

Worked hard after his introduction, but his runs were rarely rewarded with ammunition from his team mates. Showed a beautiful touch inside the penalty area to set up, and deserved his goal despite his short time on the pitch.

James McClean - 6

Was typically hardworking after coming on, and he seemed to set the tone as Ireland played with a bit more pace.

Kieran O'Hara - 6

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All he had to do was take a couple of kick-outs

Enda Stevens - 6

Got forward well after coming on, putting in a beautiful cross for Collins' goal.

Jeff Hendrick - N/A

Not on long enough to rate.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Sensational Troy Parrott Scores Twice As Ireland U21s Secure Win In Sweden

Gary Connaughton

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