It was a less than inspired performance from Ireland in the 2-0 win over Gibraltar last night, and all of a sudden much of the optimism that surrounded the team following their battling draw in Copenhagen seems to have filtered away.
Ireland were laboured throughout the game, dominating the possession stats but failing to break down a team that currently sits at 195th in the FIFA world rankings. We plenty of the ball, but looked uncertain as to what to do with it for large portions.
While the win leaves Ireland sitting pretty at the top of Group D, there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the squad with much tougher tests on the horizon. The players were happy to get the win, but they themselves know that the performance was not anywhere near the level the paying public would have been hoping for.
Speaking in his role as SPAR Better Choices ambassador this morning, Seamus Coleman acknowledged as much. He admitted that while the result was the important thing, there was much left to be desired about Ireland's performance.
How did it go? I’m sure you heard it all last night. We got three points, we are on 10 points from 12, disappointed probably in with our final third play. I said it last night, we probably weren’t patient enough at times.
We probably felt like we needed a big scoreline as that’s what everyone expected, so we were trying to score with every attack instead of keeping the ball for a while in the final third, wearing them down and creating some chances.
The players were somewhat down after the final whistle, something that manager Mick McCarthy was quick to address. A win is a win after all.
He came in and told us, 'I don't know why you are so down, I know we could have performed better and all the rest'. But 10 points from 12 is something he was looking for and that's what we got. He knows we will improve against the bigger teams.
I think we were disappointed because we felt like we wanted to put on a show, we're at home, we've been playing on the front foot recently, we've been quite positive. So, we felt like we needed to impress a little bit more. We didn't do that.
Public opinion may have swayed somewhat after last night's game, but it cannot be denied that there is a supreme amount of interest around the fortunes of the Irish team at the minute.
While that brings with it its own pressures, it makes for a welcome change from what was the noticeable indifference shown to to the team during the abject failure that was the year of 2018. With a long break between now and the next home fixture against Switzerland in August, you can be assured the Irish supporters will be raring to go for the remainder of the campaign.
Coleman is hopeful that next time around the team can show their appreciation for the supporters on the field of play, with most leaving the Aviva last night vastly underwhelmed.
The atmosphere obviously, I think no matter what level you play at I think the crowd feed off what you’re doing on the pitch. At times it was a bit flat because we were a bit flat, and then when we scored the atmosphere was good.
I touched on it a few times this week, our fans our great. That’s why I was disappointed that we didn’t put on a little bit more of a show for them, because they spent good money to come and watch us as well...
Maybe nights like last night fans might not be going home as happy as we would like them to. But we still won the game. I've no questions about how they'll view us going forward, they've always supported us through good and bad times.
When we're out there I always feel fully supported by the fans. And we've got 10 points from 12 and it's been a good start for us. We look forward and I know fans will be with us every step of the way.
SPAR Better Choices ambassador and Republic of Ireland Captain, Seamus Coleman launched the new SPAR Better Choices Low Fat Protein Milk and Mega Milk.