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'I don’t think that system caused us to have an inability to pass the ball to one another'

Mick McCarthy also admitted Aaron Connolly endured a tough night in Geneva.

Mick McCarthy pictured in Geneva tonight.
Mick McCarthy pictured in Geneva tonight.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MICK MCCARTHY’S PITHY verdict of tonight’s defeat in Geneva: “The first-half performance was poor, the second half was considerably better.” 

McCarthy started with a 3-5-2 formation for the first time in this campaign – although did briefly switch to it during the Swiss game in Dublin last month – but abandoned it after 28 minutes, reverting to a 4-3-3. 

The Irish boss was critical of his side’s passing in the first half, although didn’t say this was because Ireland were adapting to an unfamiliar system. 

“If that was the reason we conceded a goal and played badly, I’ll take the rap for that because I changed it to try and get two strikers on, which I believe most people thought was quite promising and positive.

“I don’t think that system caused us to have an inability to pass the ball to one another, so I’m not taking the rap for that. So I don’t think it was, the fact they are a very good side is the biggest contributing factor.” 

Nor did McCarthy blame it on the stodgy pitch. 

“Not the pitch, no. It didn’t stop them playing, to be honest. We were much better in the second half, a much better performance.” McCarthy played the system to accommodate a striker in support of Aaron Connolly, but admitted Switzerland were more comfortable playing a similar shape. 

“I tired to get two strikers on the pitch, and in doing so trying to help Aaron in terms of his full debut. They played better than us at that system, to be quite honest.

“If you consider who plays that system – James McClean plays it at Stoke, Enda [Stevens] plays it, John Egan plays it, Duffer plays it, there’s no problem in it and we did it in a game at home.

“But having changed back to 4-3-3 we were better at that.” 

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Connolly was relatively isolated, but McCarthy isn’t worried about the teenager being negatively affected by the experience. “It was difficult for him. He was playing against a team that had the ball most of the time, and difficult for him as we didn’t really give him any supply or real service in the first half. 

“Then I’ve had to change it, he came on the left and then we played him up the middle against three big centre-backs, which I said in here yesterday would be difficult for him. 

“But he’ll be better for it, he’ll learn from it. Kevin Kilbane made his debut in Iceland and I took him off at half-time, and he made 120 appearances or so. He’s got nothing to worry about.” 

Ireland managed just two shots on target in Geneva, and three in Tbilisi on Saturday, but those stats don’t concern McCarthy ahead of the must-win finale against the Danes. 

“I’d like to get a few more, but if we get one on target and it beats the keeper, we might just win 1-0 so that would do for me.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from Stade de Geneva, Switzerland

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