A much improved Irish performance over the horror show against Russia produced a merited but unsatisfying 1-1 draw in Slovakia tonight. The players played with more confidence and composure in much the same system but some of the better elements faded as the game went on and a draw wasn’t an injustice to either side.
Given 6 - not much to do but lacked conviction in what he did. Needs to take on more responsibility in defensive organisation from set pieces. Uncertain clearing his lines but never in danger of being beaten from the numerous long range efforts Slovakia fired at him in the second half.
O’Shea 7 - solid defensively and his use of the ball was generally productive throughout. One important defensive header to deny Durica and linked up well with Fahey.
Dunne 6 - nervous in his clearances. Fortunate with one back pass to Given that he left a few yards short. Won his usual fair share of headers but his organisational skills were lacking and he’s not assuming the role of defensive leader. Needs to be more authoritative.
St Ledger 7 - shared one or two of the nervy moments with Dunne in that there were a few opportunities to clear danger that weren’t dealt with efficiently enough. His covering was better however and he read the danger quite well. Took his goal very well.
Kilbane 6 - competent defensive effort where he played as narrow as usual but Slovakia’s efforts to exploit him by playing Weiss there delivered nothing. His use of the ball was poor however and he didn’t get a single cross in all night despite getting on the ball a few times in reasonable areas.
Fahey 7.5 - an excellent first half on his first competitive start. Delivery from set pieces was first class and he was tidy in possession and fearless in getting on the ball in a crowded midfield. Very encouraging start. Had faded by the time he was withdrawn after 70 minutes but a promising display.
Green 6.5 - withdrawn in the first half after a typically robust display punctuated with frustrating sloppy passes. Robbed the Slovak midfield of the ball on numerous occasions and part of a midfield that was very much on top while he was on the park. Needs to be more effective on the ball to make a positive impression at this level however.
Whelan 6.5 - disappointingly familiar hesitancy for the Slovak goal when he was caught on his heels and out of position on their corner. Acquitted himself reasonably well in the centre of the park for much of the game without ever looking incisive or particularly creative with his range of passing.
McGeady 8 - quiet first half only really livened up by winning the penalty at the end with a good run onto a through pass. Important role in the second half as the game drifted away from Ireland as he was one of the few to retain possession of the ball consistently and caused problems by running at defenders on the break. Showed the threat he can be when the ball is given to him quickly.
Keane 5 - a lively performance that will unfortunately be remembered for the chances that get away. The narrow miss from Long’s first half cross was certainly forgivable, the penalty miss was very disappointing. Frustrating miss at the death when an excellent first touch to create a chance was undermined completely by a poor finish that betrayed a lack of confidence. A night to forget.
Long 7.5 - another performance that delivered more than might have been expected. Showed for the ball well from start to finish and wasn’t afraid to take on the centre halves with his pace or simple strength. A couple of decent crosses and some intelligent hold-up play put Long way ahead of other candidates to replace Doyle or Keane.
Gibson 6 - lacked power in the tackle and allowed two shots goal early in the second half through being muscled off the ball. His passing was generally accurate but rarely inventive. Should have done better with a half chance after making good ground on the break when played in by McGeady.
Keogh - not on long enough to rate
Foley - didn’t put a foot wrong.