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Player Ratings As Majestic Wes And Magnificent Coleman Step Up For Ireland Vs Moldova

Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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A year and a day since we beat Germany, Ireland gave us a far more familiar anxiety with a fairly patchy performance away to Moldova.

An early goal by Shane Long gilded a period of dominance, before a failure to double the lead was exacerbated by a hideous Shane Duffy error to allow Moldova equalise. Second-half goals from James McClean guaranteed the result, however, via the unique torment this Irish side deal in.

But a win is a win is a win is a win is a win.

Here are the Irish player ratings.

Darren Randolph - 6.5

Kicking was aimless at times, and failed to foil the Moldovan equaliser when he perhaps should have come off his line more quickly.

One heart-stopping drop of a cross in the first minute of the second-half helped nobody.

Seamus Coleman - 8.5

Buoyed by the bizarre goal against our Georgian friends, Coleman was a constant attacking menace down the right flank, linking well with Walters while all the while defending stoutly.


In the second-half, with Wes fading and Ireland beginning to panic, it was Coleman who stood up to attack down the right wing. It was a real captain's performance by Coleman. A real leader.

Quintessentially Coleman.

Shane Duffy - 5

Number 7s are meant to be creative, but not for the opposition. Duffy was badly caught out on the turn on the Moldovan equaliser at the end of the first-half; caught hideously out of position by pushing up in pursuit of apparently nothing.


Looks uncomfortable beside Clark.

Ciaran Clark - 6.5 

Here's the thing with Clark. He is quite an aggressive defender, constantly wanting to push up and defend on the front-foot. When it goes correctly, it's a huge boost for Ireland: see the free-kick he helped Jon Walters win on the edge of the penalty area five minutes before the break. It helped set the tone for a much more aggressive beginning to this game than we saw against Georgia.


When it goes wrong, it's pretty horrid (see the Belgian game in the Euros).

Tonight, it went wrong in the sense his partner was uncomfortable with it.

Duffy, who is so sluggish on the turn, seems less comfortable with the front-foot defending favoured by Clark, which ultimately allowed Moldova equalise.


Stephen Ward - 7

Ward's quiet improvement has been given some volume in the media ahead of this game, and here he was as solid as ever. Spoke in the build-up to the game about trying to link up better with McClean down the left-wing, so his failure to do that tonight was a bit disappointing.

James McCarthy - 6


Very quiet. Perhaps we expect too much of McCarthy, in the hope he would be a kind of Irish Xabi Alonso. Realistically, he is morphing into a solid player in the Glenn Whelan mould. Perhaps this is the reason he is far more conspicuous when Whelan isn't there.

Another opportunity to take charge of an Irish game missed. It's now time to start question if its a case whether he can, rather than whether he will.


Glenn Whelan - 6

Perhaps should have done better to win the ball ahead of the Moldovan equaliser. But Whelan set the tone for an aggressive Irish start, finding himself further forward than he usually does.

Overall, however, he was part of an underwhelming Irish midfield.

Jon Walters - 7

Walters was so integral in the last campaign, it is odd to see him so peripheral on the right-hand side. To his credit, was much more involved when he moved to the centre in Long's absence. Did well to leave the ball for McClean on the second goal.


Wes Hoolahan - 8 

In the first-half, it felt like Wes Hoolahan's world, with Moldova its unfortunate inhabitants. Wes should really be the subject of investigation by Swiss scientists: never has something so small had its own gravitational pull.

He was always available for a pass, and attracted virtually every Irish player around him. Whereas the Georgian game was noticeable for the acres of space between Long, Walters, Brady, Hendrick and McClean, Hoolahan knitted every Irish attack together. He makes everybody look better.

He pressed well also, and foiled a Moldovan attack in the 35th minute with a crucial challenge as they broke following a Glenn Whelan free-kick. Faded somewhat in the second-half, before conjuring an assist for Seamus Coleman.

We return to a fundamental Irish truth. Wes: we're a hell of a lot better with him than without him.

James McClean -7.5

McClean came mightily close to scoring on Thursday night, and tonight he got the goal he deserved. Oddly, the closer he came to the centre of the field the better he looked: he created space for the first goal before being in the right spot to tuck home the second.

He remains frustrating in possession at times, and was careless in possession on occasion. But he adjusted his feet well to take his goals, and was ultimately the Irish saviour.

Shane Long - 7

Took his goal very well, and spent the rest of the game in his usual role of Chief Earner of Free-Kicks. Off injured on the hour mark.

Ne'er has a furrow been lonelier ploughed.


Callum O'Dowda - 7

Came on for the stricken Long, and passed the pall about with conviction, something that we hadn't seen in the second half prior to his arrival.

David Meyler - 7

Came on to shore up the win. He did grand.

Eunan O'Kane - N/A

George Hamilton - 10

Told us pre-game that the referee's sister is a World Champion Ballroom Dancer. Never change, George.

See Also: Goals And Reaction As Georgia Do Us A Big Favour And Draw With Wales



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