Tommy Dickson/INPHO Mick McCarthy at full-time.
# Reaction
McCarthy: Notion Ireland are much better than Georgia and should be disappointed with draw is 'ridiculous'
The Irish boss also said he has no regrets over the timing of Aaron Connolly’s substitution.

MICK MCCARTHY AFFIRMED his satisfaction with a point from tonight’s goalless draw away to Georgia, and said the idea his side are much superior to their hosts and thus should be disappointed with a draw is a “ridiculous notion.” 

“They are a good side”, McCarthy told his post-match press conference. “I always get the feeling from the Georgian journalists that we should be disappointed [with the result] as we are much better but I don’t get that at all. That’s a ridiculous notion.” 

The Georgian journalists asked the first couple of questions after the game, and asked the Irish boss whether he saw this result as a point gained or two dropped. 

“I see it absolutely as a point won”, replied McCarthy. “They are a very good side, but we did hit the post and Duffer could have scored the winner from the corner at the end. Aaron Connolly’s had a chance running through, and Darren hasn’t made a save.

“So for all their possession and moving us around, he’s not made one save. We could have been better offensively, but defensively we were very good. If you had offered me four points in the games against Georgia at the start of the group I’d have taken it.” 

McCarthy also spoke of how Georgia played with a level of “freedom”, given they are out of contention to qualify from the group but are guaranteed a play-off place through the Nations League, but denied that Ireland were affected by the pressure of needing to keep in contention for a top-two finish. 

“Have you ever played at senior professional level? Obviously not” said McCarthy when asked if Ireland were at all affected by playing under the pressure Georgia did not have.

“These are competitive games, but they don’t have to win it. Yes it does affect you, absolutely. I’m not suggesting for one minute that it affected us, that’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting having the freedom to play as they did is a bonus for them.” 

Aaron Connolly made a significant impact when he was introduced with 15 minutes remaining in place of James Collins, but McCarthy said he did not regret the timing of the change. 

“Not really, no. I was conscious of making sure we could defend free-kicks and corners with the bodies we had on the pitch. James Collins, who has had a right old scrap up there, he was defending the six-yard box.

“They were a real threat, they’re a big team. I thought we might nick it with him [Connolly] but he’s done really well and put himself in place to play on Tuesday. 

“I make the substitutions as I see fit, I don’t look back with regret and think I should have done them sooner.” 

He added later that Collins’ defensive qualities on set-pieces were not the only reason for his selection. 

“I wanted him as a presence up front and I thought he was, he fought with the centre-halves and we picked up a lot of second balls off him. What we didn’t do was enough with that second ball.”

gia-grigalava-and-james-collins Ryan Byrne / INPHO James Collins battles with Georgia's Gia Grigalava. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

McCarthy spoke in the build-up to the game of the importance of retaining possession and while he admitted his side didn’t do so as well as he had envisaged, he stressed the opposition as the primary factor. 

“I think we could have been better with the ball, no doubt about that. We won it back a lot and then gave it back a lot, that disappoints me. But we’ve had another clean sheet and points away from home, clean sheets away from home, I’m relishing them.

“I’d sooner win, but I’m not going away disappointed.” 

As to why this was the case – McCarthy stressed Georgia as the major factor. 

“We didn’t play very well with it, and we’re playing against a team closing down as well. Right from the kick-off, when Jeff had his first touch and rattled into a tackle, they knew what was coming from us and responded in kind.

“And they stopped us. And we will want to play better than that in Switzerland and we have done over the group. Each and every player was trying to do as well as he can, and sometimes it doesn’t happen but you have to give the opposition a bit of credit for that.”

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