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3 winners and 3 losers from the latest round of Ireland matches

Martin O’Neill’s side earned a hard-fought draw in Serbia on Monday night.

The winners

Darren Randolph

Soccer WCup 2018 Serbia Ireland Source: Darko Vojinovic

GRANTED, HE HAD a few nervy moments, but Randolph also contributed more than one important save as Ireland rescued a point that looked unlikely at times in Serbia last night. His next task will be playing as much first-team football at club level as possible, though the Bray native may have to be content with just a handful of FA Cup and League Cup appearances, with no sign of Adrian being displaced in the West Ham starting XI anytime soon.

Stephen Quinn

France v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Lyon Source: Chris Radburn

Quinn has played just half an hour in the Championship this season with Reading, but that didn’t stop Martin O’Neill turning to him when Ireland needed something from the game on Monday. The 30-year-old midfielder took little time to make an impact after replacing Stephen Ward, bringing a greater degree of creativity and liveliness to Ireland’s midfield and ultimately helping the Boys in Green get back into the game when they appeared to be out of it.

Daryl Murphy

Serbia v Republic of Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Rajko Mitic Stadium Source: Nick Potts

On his 23rd appearance, Murphy finally broke his goalscoring duck for Ireland, earning a 2-2 draw in their opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia with an 81st minute bullet header. Given their consistent long-ball tactics, Ireland could have done with Murphy from the start, and he may well have a significant role to play in the upcoming campaign, after making a big impact in the final 14 minutes of last night’s game.

The losers

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Harry Arter

Republic of Ireland v Netherlands - International Friendly - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Arter was given a chance to impress in the friendly against Oman, but ultimately didn’t do enough to convince Martin O’Neill he was worthy of a starting spot in the Serbia clash. The 26-year-old Bournemouth star will be disappointed he didn’t force his way into the team even with James McCarthy injured, though Glenn Whelan’s sluggish display last night suggests Arter’s patience could still be rewarded sooner rather than later.

Glenn Whelan

Soccer WCup 2018 Serbia Ireland Source: Darko Vojinovic

Many people have expressed disappointment at the fact that Ireland completed just 94 passes last night compared with Serbia’s 361. The conditions may not have been great, but even allowing for that, it was an abysmal performance on the ball possession-wise. Though he wasn’t the only one, Glenn Whelan was among the worst culprits, seldom showing for the ball as Ireland’s midfield was anonymous for the majority of the 90 minutes.

Wes Hoolahan

Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 Training Camp - Day Five - Fota Island Resort Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Those hoping to see Ireland play a positive, passing game against a side ranked 16 places below them in the Fifa rankings will have feared the worst when Hoolahan’s name was not on the teamsheet and so it proved. Yet even with Ireland so sloppy on the ball, O’Neill resisted the temptation to introduce the 34-year-old Norwich playmaker, who has made five appearances for the Canaries in the Championship this season. For all Martin O’Neill’s awareness of the need to use Hoolahan sparingly, last night was the first competitive Ireland match that he played no part in in almost two years. Before that, the former Shels player had been involved in their last 12 competitive games — the 1-0 loss to Scotland at Celtic Park was the last time he missed on an a game entirely, even if a number of his appearances since then have been off the bench.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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