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Comparing Ireland's 2013 Team In Vienna With Radically Changed Side Of Today

Comparing Ireland's 2013 Team In Vienna With Radically Changed Side Of Today
By Conor Neville Updated

Striking stat to emerge from last weekend. Only two of the starting lineup from Ireland's 1-0 defeat in Austria three years ago featured in the victory on Saturday. Also, two of the subs introduced on 10 September 2013 featured in the latest winning effort.

The rate of turnover is exaggerated by the injuries to James McCarthy and Shane Long, two players who might otherwise have started, but the stat does highlight the extent to which Martin O'Neill has re-moulded the team (usually by accident) since the departure of Giovanni Trapattoni.

Before giddiness takes over wholesale, it's worth recalling that it's only a month since every Irish football fan with a twitter account unloaded their anger on the team halfway through the home match with Georgia.

We're top of the group now, but we're one only shitty performance away from another explosion of online anger.

Still, it's clear that the Irish team's public approval ratings have recovered greatly since the 2013 nadir.

With Ireland's elimination from the 2014 World Cup already effectively confirmed, the primary reaction to the 1-0 defeat in Vienna was indifference rather than anger. Balls watched the match in a pub in north Dublin in which few of the customers could be bothered looking at the screen.

The RTE debate that night was full of the normal rancour with Liam Brady gamely going out to bat for his old boss and arguing for the most positive possible assessment of Trapattoni's reign. Inevitably, it ended with Dunphy jabbing his finger at him while he sat back and rolled his eyes.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUKKZbZJG38

To his credit, Mr. Trapattoni resigned the following day. He signed off with a dignified statement.

I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here which has always meant a lot to us.

We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect.

Since his arrival, Martin O'Neill has slowly introduced newer players to the setup, including a few who were distrusted by his predecessor. He has shown a willingness to take the odd left-field selection gamble when it's least expected. While still a fundamentally defensive manager, he's less committed to the idea that Ireland will fall flat on their face if they try to play football.

But it's arguable the extent to which O'Neill deserves credit for re-making the team. Many of his most fruitful changes have been forced by accident. Darren Randolph would never have nailed down the No. 1 jersey had blast from the distant past Shay Given not succumbed to injury against Germany.

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Harry Arter has emerged but would not have started at the weekend but for an injury to James McCarthy. Likewise, Meyler would have spent the entire game on the pitch had Glenn Whelan not limped off early.

Elsewhere, James McClean and Wes Hoolahan, two players who made Trapattoni nervous, did start the match. But the former has come of age to the extent that even Trap might have picked him, while the sparing use of Hoolahan remains a source of frustration for his fanclub. Robbie Brady was very young when Trap was in the job and there was little clamour for his call-up.

Trap was a fan of Hendrick and he would likely have become more prominent anyway had the Italian stayed in charge for another reign.

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Here is the team that played on Saturday.

And now compare it to the team that featured on that grimmest of nights in Vienna in September 2013.

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David Forde

Ireland's first choice goalkeeper during 2013 and 2014, he occupied the No. 1 jersey during the closing stretch of the World Cup 2014 campaign and the early part of the Euro 2016 campaign.

Now he's on a season long loan with Portsmouth having spent eight years at Milwall. He is playing regularly at Portsmouth, making 17 appearances thus far this season. His last minute omission from the Euro 2016 squad was a rough blow and confirmation of his drastic slide down the pecking order.

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Seamus Coleman

Finally admitted to the squad by Trap after Euro 2012. Coleman had a smashing season for Everton in 2013-14 but his displays for Ireland were less acclaimed.

Now he's the new captain of Ireland since Robbie Keane's retirement. Has made a superb start to the 2018 campaign, scoring the only goal against Georgia and delivering tigerish displays against Moldova and Austria.

John O'Shea

Was withdrawn after 49 minutes that night in favour of Ciaran Clark. An elder statesman in the squad since 2003, he has since crossed the 100 caps threshold.

Now he's being characterised in some quarters as a happy camper around the place. Travelled to Vienna despite a hamstring injury. It seems clear that Duffy and Clark are being groomed as the centre back partnership of the future.

Richard Dunne

His international career was winding down and the 2014 qualifying campaign would prove his final one for Ireland. His last match in the green was a 3-1 win against Kazakhstan that November.

Now has slipped into the world of football punditry with TV3 for the Champions League and worked with ITV during the Euros.

Marc Wilson

One of the brighter sparks of the 2014 campaign,

Now he's playing for Bournemouth having fallen out with Mark Hughes at Stoke City. He played little during 2015-16 and missed Euro 2016 through injury.

Paul Green

A humble toiler in midfield, he became a punchline in the dying days of the Trapattoni era, and the symbol of the manager's deranged pessimism.

Green's multitude of critics alleged he had much to be humble about.

However, he was rewarded with the man of the match award in Vienna. This was one of the those controversial executive decisions made by Ronnie Whelan which prompted fury back in the studio in Donnybrook.

He last played for Ireland in the US Cup in the summer of 2014.

Now he's signed a one year deal with Oldham Athletic in League One. He has not been mentioned in connection with a starting place for Ireland for some time.

James McCarthy

In common with a few others in the Trap era, he was a great white hope before he kicked a ball. By late 2013, Eamon Dunphy had already concluded that he was no good.

Now he remains certain to play a part in Ireland's 2018 campaign. Would have played in Austria but for an injury. A whipping boy for the Irish football media, his most ardent critics are already citing Ireland's win on Saturday that he should be left out of the team permanently.

Anthony Pilkington

The match in Vienna was his only competitive start for Ireland having come on as a sub against Sweden four days earlier.

Now he's enjoyed a decent start to the season with Cardiff City in the Championship. Hasn't played in a competitive match since Martin O'Neill took over but has featured in a slew of friendlies, most recently the 2-2 draw with Slovakia in March.

Jon Walters

Walters was played as a kind of wide forward in Vienna as Il Trap, with little left to lose, decided to use three attackers. Had been a regular for two years, having properly nailed down his place in the 4-0 win in Estonia.

Now he has grown in prominence and stature in the Martin O'Neill era. Delivered another towering and selfless performance up front on his own in Vienna last Saturday. His public approval ratings reached dizzying highs after he scored both goals in Ireland's 2-0 win over Bosnia in last year's playoff. Tailed off a bit after his injury interrupted Euros. But, he will be crucial going forward.

Robbie Keane

While popular opinion held that Robbie had been past it for a while, and there were contrarian calls for his omission, he enjoyed a prolific 2013, hitting eight goals in total. Sweden were the only 'serious' opposition he scored against.  He was polished and alert against the likes of Georgia, Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands.

Now he's announced his retirement from international football, playing his final game against Oman in Lansdowne Road. Hit his 68th goal equalling the tally of Gerd Muller in the process.

Shane Long

Had finally been installed as a regular starter for Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni. Scored two goals for Ireland in 2013, against England in May and against Latvia in Martin O'Neill's first game. In between, he expressed his dissatisfaction during the brief reign of Noel King.

Now he's not in the greatest form for Southampton. He lost his place in the side before injury forced his absence in Vienna.

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Ciaran Clark

Was brought on for John O'Shea early in the second half that night. Was regarded as a promising player. Dunphy argued that Clark should have been deployed in the centre of midfield after the game. Had committed a howler in the home match against Austria six months earlier, leading to the concession of a goal.

Now he looks set to form the centre-back partnership with Shane Duffy going forward. Reservations had been expressed about the pair before Saturday. They may yet re-emerge if Ireland falter against Wales in Dublin.

James McClean

Was brought on with seventeen minutes remaining in Vienna that night. The mania that surrounded McClean in the run-in to Euro 2012 had died down as defenders grew wise to his startlingly direct style.

Now he's being talked up as one of Ireland's most important players. Has played three good matches in a row and has scored Ireland's last three goals.

Conor Sammon

Another punchline. His selection wasn't even considered as a matter for debate so much as ridicule. Even the generous Billo blurted out that his continued inclusion was "a joke" before catching himself and admitting that was "too strong."

Like Paul Green, his elevation to the international setup was regarded as all that was wrong with the Trapattoni era. He played the final nine minutes of the Austria game, replacing Shane Long.

Trap said of both Sammon and his teammate Jeff Hendrick;

"They play Championship, and I have to ask why when I see the games in the Premier League and the way they play with us. Quality is quality."

Now he is playing in the Premiership, albeit the Scottish one. Has played 12 games for Hearts this season, scoring one goal.

Read more: Ranking Ireland's Best Away Performances Since 1987

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