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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 4 September, 2015


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Ireland 4-1 Oman (FT)

Here is the Ireland team for this evening:

David Forde, Seamus Coleman, Stephen Kelly, Sean St Ledger, Marc Wilson, Robbie Brady, David Meyler, James McCarthy, Andy Keogh, Shane Long, Kevin Doyle.

You’ll have noticed that there’s a late change in the Irish side, with St Ledger starting ahead of McShane. We’ve received this statement from the FAI in recent minutes:

“Word just in that Paul McShane has come down with something and was vomiting after the warm-up. St Ledger starting in his place.”

Speaking on Setanta, Kevin Kilbane says that “history suggests we can beat anyone”. Some may consider that statement a bit of an exaggeration, but perhaps he was thinking of this famous moment:

YouTube credit:

The teams are out, with kick-off less than five minutes away.

Our saviour against Kazakhstan, Kevin Doyle, captains the side tonight.

There seems to be some confusion, with the announcement of “the Irish National Anthem” being followed by a song from the tanoy that is definitely not Amhrán na bhFiann (it was instead the official FIFA music).

Anyhow, after that farcical delay, Amhrán na bhFiann belatedly begins playing.

While we await kick-off, here’s a quick poll for your amusement:

If some of the fringe players impress tonight, do you think Trap will start them against Germany?

Poll Results:

It’s a somewhat positive opening, as Ireland at least look to be trying to pass the ball a bit, rather than lump it forward, as they did all too often against Kazakhstan.

After just two minutes, Kevin Doyle’s cross is almost deflected into the net by an Oman defender, as Al Habsi is forced to make a good reaction save.

Down the other hand, a poor clearance from David Forde puts Ireland under pressure, with the defence struggling to clear the ball thereafter, as the Oman attackers lurking.

A deep free-kick into the box finds the head of Sean St Ledger, who heads it across the box to the unmarked Shane Long, and the West Brom striker nods home easily to give Ireland the lead (7 minutes).

Ireland are continuing to pass the ball consistently, unlike they did against Kazakhstan, with James McCarthy already looking far more influential than he was in Friday’s game.

A clever ball from Shane Long finds the head of Andy Keogh, but the winger is adjudged to be marginally offside.

If Ireland continue to play in this manner though, they could win the game by four or five goals. However, it must also be said that Oman look pretty hopeless. They’re no Kazakhstan even.

Perhaps partially due to the distinct lack of enthusiasm surrounding the Irish team at the moment, the attendance at Craven Cottage tonight is really poor. The fact that it’s being played in London is another obvious reason.

I’ll try to get you the official figures before the end of the game.

If that doesn’t impress Trapattoni, I don’t know what will. The ball isn’t cleared properly by the Oman defence, and Robbie Brady hits a classy volley from about 25 yards out, which finds the corner of the net (23 mins).

“Oh man,” say the office’s resident pun expert, Hugh O’Connell.

Speaking on Setanta, Matt Holland says Oman “are not a bad team,” but I reckon they’d struggle against a decent League of Ireland side.

Not that anything should be taken away from this Irish performance – they’ve shown a decent level of flair and creativity tonight, for a Trapattoni team at least.

However, as I was just typing there, Oman had claims for a penalty waved away by referee Andrew Marriner.

Let’s hope Ireland don’t get too complacent now.

Robbie Brady is really staking a claim for a more influential role in the squad.

He curls in a perfectly wighted free-kick, and Kevin Doyle is on hand to nod home (35 mins).

If only it were always this simple, as far as Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland team are concerned.

Ireland are looking really confident now. David Meyler attempts an ambitious shot from distance that goes well wide.

Normally, most critics would urge supporters not to read too much into this game, but the team have been so poor of late that it’s hard not to grasp for positives.

Another great cross by Brady from a corner, and St Ledger’s header is well saved  by Al Habsi.

Shortly thereafter, Kevin Doyle almost plays Shane Long through on goal, but slightly overhits his pass.

Both strikers have looked lively for Ireland tonight.

What problems? Ireland have produced a thoroughly convincing display so far tonight.

In contrast with the majority of Trapattoni’s time in charge, they have attempted to pass the ball consistently, with Robbie Brady in particular catching the eye, albeit against a side that are 93rd in the World Rankings.

Kazakhstan were 142nd, but they appear superior to Oman on tonight’s evidence.

Of course, the Asian qualfying matches have far less quality than the European ones, so this could be part of the reason for the deceptive difference in status between the two sides.

Alex Pearce has replaced Marc Wilson and Darren Randolph has come on for David Forde in the second half for Ireland.

Still no sign of James McClean though.

Ireland almost add a fourth, as Keogh is played through, but his shot is palmed away for a corner by Al Habsi.

As the low-key opening start to the second half continues, it’s also worth mentioning that Germany are currently 2-0 up against Austria and Sweden are beating Kazakhstan 1-0, and it’s early in the second half in both those games.

Interesting to note that Sweden aren’t exactly winning convincingly against Kazakhstan either and they’re playing at home, remember.

Oman have a rare short on target from Al Farsi, which Randolph tips over the bar.

Ireland haven’t showed the same level of urgency since the beginning of the second half.

Good ball into the box from Stephen Kelly finds the head of Kevin Doyle, who narrowly misses the target.

And it’s the last action of the game from the Wolves man, as he’s replaced by James McClean.

It looks like Ireland may now play five in midfield, though it’s not entirely clear what formation they’ll adopt as of yet.

James McCarthy comes off for Simon Cox, who will presumably now play upfront instead of Doyle.

McClean has now almost scored twice since coming on.

Firstly, his free kick was tipped away from goal by Al Habsi, and then, his volley following some nice Irish build-up play narrowly eludes the top corner.

Meanwhile, McGeady has replaced the impressive Robbie Brady, with twenty minutes remaining now.

A clever through ball splits open the Irish defence, and Al Farsi coolly slots it into the corner.

There is no doubt that the Irish performance has dipped in this second half. Their failure to establish an rhythm to their play is probably partially as a result of the extensive amount of substitutions made, with the latest seeing Joey O’Brien coming on for Shane Long.

Ireland need to be careful here.

Al Hosni has struck a shot narrowly wide from just inside the box, as they threaten to capitalise on the increasingly lax attitude of Giovanni Trapattoni’s team.

Another goal from a set-piece for Ireland, as Alex Pearce heads home powerfully from McGeady’s ball in (84 mins).

Oman have struggled to deal with the side’s aerial threat all night.

Beautiful skill from McGeady to evade his marker with a drag back, before playing in Andy Keogh with a lovely through pass.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Keogh is adjudged to be narrowly offside, though he hits the chance wide anyway.

McGeady underhits a pass, and Simon Cox is the victim of a sore-looking tackle from the opposition player.

Consequently, Cox has to be carried off, with a few seconds remaining.

It’s full-time in the Group C games – Sweden have beaten Kazakhstan 2-0, and Germany have triumphed 2-1 against Austria.

So a much-improved performance from Ireland, all in all.

Oman, though, it has to be said, are the worst international side Trap’s team have played in a long while.

Robbie Brady, Seamus Coleman and Shane Long in particular did themselves no harm at all on the basis of that performance, and they’ll surely all feature on the bench, if not the starting lineup against Germany next month.

Moreover, it’ll be interesting to see whether Ireland attempt to pass the ball as much in that game as they did tonight.

Right, that’s it from me for the moment. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stay tuned though, as we’ll have more on tonight’s match coming up shortly on the site.

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