Ireland 0 Ukraine 1: Irish player ratings

Nathan Collins comfortably Ireland’s best player as bright start fades from view

1 Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool)

Bad error for the Ukraine goal when he seemed to realise far too late that Tsyhankov’s inswinging free was going to miss everyone. It was a killer mistake on a night when he was generally secure in everything else he did. Good positioning to deal with sporadic Ukrainian snapshots and quick off his line to patrol the edge of the box. Rating: 5

2 Cyrus Christie (Unattached)

Struggled when Mudryk came over to terrorise his neighbourhood. No disgrace in that – there’s currently a three-way fight between Arsenal, Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen to sign Mudryk. That’s a fair distance clear of what Ireland’s third-choice right back can be expected to live with. No surprise he needed help from Collins and Cullen at times. Rating: 4


4 Shane Duffy (Brighton)

As ever, catapulted himself into the flightpath of multiple shots in and around the edge of the Ireland box. Kenny needs more than workaday bravery from him though and his passing when stepping out of defence was ropey enough. Denied a goal by a stunning Lunin save 10 minutes from time. Rating: 5

5 John Egan (Sheffield United)

Fizzed into tackles in and around the centre circle during Ireland’s energetic start. Never quite got a handle on the Ukrainian front three as the visitors grew into the game though and gave away a pointless free for the goal. Had his night cut short by injury. Rating: 5

12 Nathan Collins (Burnley)

Comfortably the most impressive Irish player. Played a big part in the pressing effort and skated back the length of the pitch to run down a break from an early corner. Unhurried in possession and got in some crucial blocks as well. Rating: 7

3 Enda Stevens (Sheffield United)

Carried out his defensive work to the letter – it made a noticeable difference to have a natural defender on the left rather than a repurposed left winger. The corollary is true too, of course. Stevens posed no threat going forward and too often had to turn back, slowing Ireland’s attack. Rating: 5

6 Josh Cullen (Anderlecht)

Symptomatic of the rut Ireland are in. Smart, dutiful display around the middle of the pitch, hard-working out of possession and tidy in it. But no real nuance or threat in the final third. Caught one second-half potshot well but it flew a couple of yards wide. Rating: 6

13 Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United)

Ireland don’t score because Ireland’s midfield don’t provide enough penetration. Hendrick has the hardest job in the team and on nights like this, he doesn’t look up to it. Found it harder and harder to knit the team together as the game wore on. Rating: 5

17 Jason Knight (Derby County)

Ireland’s night in microcosm. Started brightly with a couple of early runs and two sighters on goal. But completely faded from view as Ukraine started to control the middle third. Kept at it but made no impression as the game drifted from Ireland. Rating: 6

20 Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham)

Willing as always but showed his limitations too. Frequently got himself into good positions but dithered in possession all too often and wasted them. Looked a bit leaden-footed at times and got bullied, with very little protection from the referee. Rating: 4

7 Callum Robinson (West Brom)

A curiously wan performance from a player Ireland can’t afford to see go through a quiet patch. Probably should have had a penalty towards the end of the first half but offered precious little else. Rating: 5


Michael Obafemi was by far the brightest spark off the bench, zipping in behind the Ukrainian cover and unlucky not to score with a late header. Dara O’Shea took over Egan’s role comfortably enough and James McClean’s crossing had much more fizz in it than anything that went before. Alan Browne didn’t make much of an impression. Rating: 6


This is not good. Two games, two defeats, no goals. All the momentum of late 2021 seems to have dissolved and Ireland look pedestrian and unthreatening again. Kenny’s midfield was over-run too easily here and the front two were probably left on too long. Improvement badly needed. Rating: 4

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times