Football

Player Ratings: Here's How We Rated The Irish Players In A Frustrating Game Against Sweden

Player Ratings: Here's How We Rated The Irish Players In A Frustrating Game Against Sweden

Rarely, in major tournaments, does an Irish draw feel like a bad result. Having led a major tournament game for the first time in 14 years, however, Ciaran Clark's own goal from a Zlatan cross was utterly deflating.

Ireland were the better side until Sweden kicked off following Hoolahan's wonderful goal, but ultimately we had to settle for a draw against a side who didn't have a shot on target.

We were, however, frequently caught out down our right-hand side, with James McCarthy cut adrift and struggling against a deluge of Swedish attacks.

Darren Randolph - 7

Could do little about Clark's OG, and had earlier made a terrific save down to his left immediately after Ireland had scored, just as we began the sad process of shitting the bed with extreme alacrity and panic. Kicking generally fine, apart from one daisy-cutter in the first-half. Had a couple of mad punches in the last ten minutes, that were lousy for our nerves.

Seamus Coleman - 6

A strange performance by Coleman. Utterly brilliant in setting up the Irish goal, Coleman seriously struggled defensively, partly down to the chronic lack of protection ahead of him. Caught out positionally too often.

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John O'Shea - 6

O'Shea had little involvement, looking generally solid before being badly caught out on the Swedish equaliser; over-committing to closing down Zlatan. Oh, and that miss in the first-half. Christ.

Ciaran Clark - 7

Perhaps Clark should have done better positionally on the own-goal, but he was otherwise extremely good on Zlatan, sticking to him incredibly tightly. Made one magnificent interception on Zlatan in the closing stages of the first half. He deserves to keep his place.

Robbie Brady - 7

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Brady was very good, solid defensively and attacking with great pace and intent down the left-flank. Set-pieces were reasonably good, other than that short-corner in the first half. Don't be at that lads. Faded as the game wore on.

Glenn Whelan - 6

Whelan looked the most composed  Irish player in the first-half (aside from Wes) and struggled to stem the Swedish tide down our right flank. Ireland really struggled to hold on to the ball having gone ahead, for which Whelan should take some responsibility.

James McCarthy - 4

McCarthy was unfit coming into this game and was left out on the right of Ireland's midfield three for far too long. He desperately struggled to deal with the pace of Martin Olsson, and all of the Swedish attacks came down their left flank. McCarthy was utterly overwhelmed, and O'Neill's decision to leave him out there until the 82nd minute ultimately cost us badly.

McCarthy was poor - Dunphy slaughtered him, saying that he had Roberto Martinez sacked last season - but he wasn't fully fit, and his poor performance can partly be explained by Ireland's systems failure in the second half.

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Jeff Hendrick - 7

Hendrick -still referred to as Hendricks by Eamon Dunphy - was outstanding in the first half, constantly on the ball. He came this close to scoring what could have been Ireland's greatest ever major tournament goal:

He linked superbly well with Robbie Brady, a combination first formed with St Kevin's Boys back in the 1990s. Should have done better with the chance immediately after the Swedish equaliser, and faded in the second half when Ireland needed players to get on the ball in midfield.

Jon Walters - 3

We were told not to worry about Walters' fitness in the build-up to the tournament, but it has proved to be a serious cause for concern. Walters was patently unfit: his first-touch was sloppy, particularly in the penalty area in the 36th minute, seeing a slick Wes Hoolahan pass bounce off his shin.

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Defensively, he failed to offer protection to James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman down Ireland's right-wing, with Swedish left-back Martin Olsson involvement sufficient to catapult him ahead of at least one of Mary-Kate or Ashley in the world's 'Olsson Power Rankings'. Played on the left during the second half, before making way for McClean on the hour mark.

Wes Hoolahan - 8

German TV commentators apparently called Wes the 'Irish Messi', which seems to be disrespectful to Wes if we are being honest. A magical performance, the only Irish player capable of keeping a cool head as all around him were losing theirs. It is no coincidence that anytime Ireland looked capable of doing anything, Wes was involved. Have a look at this:

Oh, and he also scored:

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The decision to sub him for Keane with ten minutes left was strange, to say the least. Spellbinding.

Shane Long - 5

A virtual irrelevance. Long really struggled to get on the ball, spending much of the game facing Darren Randolph. He failed to test Isakson, forlornly appealing for a penalty in the first-half. If Ireland are going to get out of the group, we need more from Long against Belgium and Italy.

Substitutes 

James McClean - 6

Didn't get booked. Won a foul to briefly release pressure. Otherwise, didn't do much.

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Robbie Keane - N/A

Brought on for Wes, Keane did nothing. His first touch was an attempt at an overhead kick. The fated Keane goal must wait.

Aiden McGeady - N/A

McGeady came on in the final few moments for the remaining shell of James McCarthy, but contributed little. Didn't have time to be tested defensively by the rampant Olsson.

Martin O'Neill - 6

Ireland were the better side until they scored, and O'Neill should take great credit for selecting an Irish team who looked intent on causing Sweden problems, particularly through Hoolahan's fleet of foot. This proactive game plan was partly hoisted by Walters and McCarthy's lack of match sharpness, and a poor performance by Shane Long, along with some bad luck.

O'Neill did not adequately address the issue down Ireland's right, and ultimately we paid the price.

There are, however, many reasons to be positive: we created far more chances than the Swedes. A draw at a major tournament being considered as a bad result is definite progress, and, injuries permitting, we can have a serious crack at Belgium and Italy.

It's still on.

See Also: Watch: ITV Air Superb Interview Showcasing The Growing Keane/O'Neill Guy-Love

See Also: Watch: The Swedes May Have ABBA But We Have Something So Much Better

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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