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3 winners and losers from Ireland's latest international week

The team picked up six points from two games but encountered a few stumbling blocks along the way.

The winners

1. Seamus Coleman

Soccer WCup 2018 Serbia Ireland Source: Darko Vojinovic

REMAINS COMFORTABLY IRELAND’S best player, Coleman took responsibility in the way great captains do by scoring a fine if slightly fortuitous individual goal against Georgia. The full-back was equally impressive against Moldova, constantly causing the hosts trouble down the right flank and setting up the third goal. It’s no surprise that he’s been linked with Manchester United lately.

2. James McClean

Moldova v Republic of Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D  - Zimbru Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

As a winger McClean’s game is about taking risks and trying to beat his man. Inevitably, he will make mistakes and lose possession occasionally, and there were times against both Georgia and Moldova where his decision making was inadequate. However, what’s impressive about McClean is that he keeps having the courage to get on the ball and try to make things happen, even when he is not having the best of games. Such perseverance ultimately paid dividends, as he scored a clinical brace last night.

3. Martin O’Neill

Moldova v Republic of Ireland - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Zimbru Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

His team may not have played especially attractive football particularly in the first half at home to Georgia, but whatever he said at half-time in both games clearly had the desired effect, as Ireland were much improved in the second half. Not everyone is overly enamoured with his style of football, but with Ireland sitting joint top of Group D, it’s been indisputably effective this far.

The losers

1. Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Did reasonably well against Georgia but was badly caught out for the goal against Moldova and was clearly nervy thereafter as he committed one or two further errors that fortunately went unpunished. Some critics are questioning his place in the team as a result, but Duffy will improve with experience.

2. Adam Rooney

Adam Rooney Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Rooney was called up to the squad after Daryl Murphy pulled out through injury. With just two other fit strikers and two games in three days, the 28-year-old Dubliner — who has six goals in 15 appearances for Aberdeen this season — would have been hoping to finally make his senior international debut. However, it wasn’t to be. He didn’t even make the bench against Georgia. Moreover, with the score 1-1 against Moldova and Shane Long going off injured, O’Neill preferred bring on another midfielder in Callum O’Dowda rather than placing faith in the prolific Dons hit man when a goal was badly needed.

3. Jeff Hendrick

Republic of Ireland v Georgia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

For Ireland, Hendrick has yet to rediscover his superb Euro 2016 form. Despite scoring against Serbia, he otherwise failed to impose himself on the game, and the Burnley man was similarly ineffectual against Georgia before picking up a needless booking that left him suspended for the Moldova clash. Like the team in general, Hendrick can do better.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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