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9 stats on Martin O'Neill's Ireland that might surprise you

There are a couple of good potential pub quiz questions in here.

The Irish team (file pic).
The Irish team (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

HAVING MADE IT through the group stages and with two crucial play-off games against Denmark just days away, now seems like a good time to reflect on the Martin O’Neill era so far, as he approaches matches that will almost certainly play a big part in defining his legacy as Irish coach.

One way of gaining insight into the O’Neill era is through looking at the stats.

Of course, stats aren’t everything in football. That most essential of Irish footballing traits — ‘spirit’ — cannot be measured.

Nonetheless, the following figures at least tell part of the story of the Derry native’s reign, with a particular emphasis on the World Cup qualifying campaign so far.

  1. Wes Hoolahan has started just four games in the current qualifying campaign but has the joint highest number of assists along with Robbie Brady (2).
  2. James McClean has attempted almost twice as many shots (22) as the second-highest player in this regard (Shane Long – 12). He is also Ireland’s top scorer of the campaign with four goalsDaryl Murphy (3) is the only other Irish player who has managed to register more than one goal.
  3. Eunan O’Kane has played the least amount of minutes (4 against Moldova) of any Irish player in the campaign. Darren Randolph is the only individual who has played every minute of every game (900 minutes), with James McClean the next highest (805 minutes).
  4. Shane Long has committed more fouls (17) than any other Irish player, while Jon Walters has had the most fouls suffered (20).
  5. Ireland tend to score most frequently in the opening 15 minutes (4), while the only 15-minute period of the game they have never scored is the 31-45-minute period.
  6. Despite their reputation as a long ball team, there were three occasions in qualifying when Ireland saw more of the ball than the opposition — Moldova away (54%), Austria home (53%) and Serbia home 52%. Georgia away (31%) was the team’s worst performance in terms of possession.
  7. Glenn Whelan’s appearance off the bench against Wales in Cardiff meant he went level with Paul McGrath on 83 caps.
  8. James McClean and Jon Walters are the joint-highest goalscorers of the Martin O’Neill era with 10 goals apiece. Shane Long is the next highest with eight goals.
  9. McClean has also appeared more times (39) than any other player in the Martin O’Neill era, just ahead of Shane Long (36) and Wes Hoolahan (34). Stephen Ward has appeared just 29 times in total, but has made more starts than any other Irish player under O’Neill (28).

- All stats from the FAI media guide.

  • As proud Energy Partner to the FAI, SSE Airtricity have given us a pair of tickets to the sold-out Ireland vs Denmark game to give away. You’ll watch the Boys in Green (hopefully) seal World Cup qualification from the Vasador Suite, which includes food and refreshment before the match. To enter simply email competitions@the42.ie with your score prediction for the away leg and we’ll pick a winner from the correct entries on Sunday morning.

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