Ireland Play Off Secured
Ireland have secured a playoff spot after a heart stopping 1-0 win after a James Mc Clean strike in the 57th minute. It was not pretty for the most part but again it was effective and although it was hard to stomach at times , Ireland have secured a playoff spot after a strange campaign that started really well and dipped in the middle but the two desired results came at the tail end of the group.
Ireland will now go into the draw for the play offs next week with huge confidence and will be a match for any of the other 7 sides that will make up the play off draw. People will give out about the way Ireland play but they always seem to get the desired result when it matters most.
The expectancy on Wes Hoolahan needs to stop although he is 35 years of age and won’t be around for long more. Jeff Hendrick and Harry Arthur worked very hard in attack and defence this evening. Shane Duffy was Paul Mc Grath in disguise along with Ciaran Clark. Both Cyrus Christie and Stephen Ward worked hard in the 2nd half.
The performance will be forgotten in the 1st half but they will need to be real improvement in the midfield because knocking the ball long won’t work if they get beyond the play offs and make it to Russia 2018.
Tonight is not the night for pointing out the faults we have to applaud what has been achieved by defeating a team who in the summer of 2016 almost made the Final of Euro 2016. Yes Wales did not have Gareth Bale this evening and that dented things they wanted to do but Ireland were without Jon Walters, Shane Long and Skipper Seamus Coleman. Three men who may well have started this vital fixture.
Looking to what has been achieved this evening James Mc Clean has done it for a 2nd time, a crucial goal in Vienna and tonight a peach of a strike in the Cardiff City Stadium. Looking to what is now on the horizon , It will be the play offs again in November and who knows what can be done in that 2 legged affair. David Myler will miss out in the 1st leg but I am sure he will be replaced by someone hungry for work maybe Callum O Dowda or Wes Hoolahan.
Yet again this squad has found a way to win and defied the odds to secure an unlikely play off place. Time now to focus on what is about to come. Again this performance was full of pride, passion , aggression with the odd moment of brilliance ala Harry Arthur stepping over the ball to let Mc Clean in for that massive strike.
Roll on the two games in November as Ireland have shown what can be achieved with desire , hunger , passion now if they could only marry that with keeping the ball for sustained periods god know what can be done. Bring on whoever , I doubt it will matter to this squad who they need to beat to get to Russia 2018…..
Cian Mc Gibney