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The RTÉ Panel Were Baffled By Martin O'Neill's Use Of Wes Hoolahan

PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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As Ireland struggled to victory against Georgia on Thursday night, Wes Hoolahan was an unused substitute. Many wondered why the Norwich midfielder at the very least did not make an appearance off the bench.

Hoolahan started Sunday night's win against Moldova and played 86 minutes. It was a Man of the Match performance from the Dubliner. He set up Shane Long's opener with a perfectly weighted pass and was involved in the majority of Ireland's good play.

After the game, Darragh Maloney questioned a youthful RTÉ panel - Damien Duff, Richie Sadlier and Didi Hamann - about Martin O'Neill's use of Hoolahan.


Duff said that he cannot understand why O'Neill does not pick him to start in every game.

I love watching him play. He gets the team ticking. It's Martin O'Neill who picked the team. If you look at the goals again tonight, James McClean was involved with three of them but I think Wes set up the first with an absolutely amazing ball. Eye of the needle stuff, the weight of the pass in the first half.

In the second half, it's Seamus crossing the ball for James but it starts with Wes Hoolahan, that guile, that x-factor, that craftiness, call it what you want. I don't see many players in our squad that can do that. If he's not on the pitch, there's no goal there - it's as simple as that. I'd play him but...

Duff added that he finds O'Neill's lack of praise for Hoolahan as strange.


It's always a prickly point. If he's ever mentioned in interviews with Martin O'Neill, he's never too eager to pay him a compliment which I find amazing. Each to their own.

Sadlier is tired of having the same conversation about Hoolahan. Like Duff, he cannot understand why Hoolahan does not feature in every game for Ireland.

I don't know why this is a constant conversation. Every time he plays there's usually a conversation at half-time or full-time about how effective he is and that was the case again tonight.

If you go back to Thursday night's game, it screaming out for someone who does what he does. Forget about whether he starts or not, why he wouldn't have been brought in on an occasion like that... Tony asked him [Martin O'Neill] a direct question and he got nowhere with him.

I don't know why Martin O'Neill thinks the way he does or uses him so sparingly. What he thinks of him I don't think we'll ever fully be told.

Hamann offered a different viewpoint. He believes that due to Hoolahan's age, he cannot play every game and that the 34-year-old perhaps benefited from the rest last week.


He got the best out of him tonight - maybe because he didn't play the other day. At 34, I disagree, I don't think you've got to play him all the time. You need to see who you're playing against and what you want to do.

I think it was evident tonight that if he does play, he makes other players play better. He gives them a different dimension, a dimension they didn't have on Thursday, they had it tonight. That's why they played well and deservedly won the game tonight.

Watch:James McClean Had A Pop At The Irish Media On Sky Sports


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