Martin O’Neill admits Ireland performance was poorest of campaign
McClean: ‘It’s been a disappointing night, just not good enough on the night to be honest’
Ireland’s James McClean disputes a booking with the referee as Shane Long and Jon Walters look on. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill readily acknowledged after Ireland’s game in Tbilisi that this had been his side’s poorest performance of the campaign so far with the visitors, he admitted, having allowed their hosts to dominate, especially in the first half when they were comfortably second best.
“Yes. I would agree with that,” he said when asked if this was Ireland weakest game to date. “We scored early on and then sat back and allowed Georgia to dominate the game. When we did get the ball, we gave it away cheaply.
“That said,” he continued, “we did create chances and could have won the game. But we played poorly.”
Georgia completely out-passed Ireland over the course of the 90 minutes, enjoying 69 per cent of the game’s possession but the gap was a little pronounced in terms of chances created and either James McClean or Aiden McGeady might have grabbed a winner late on.
“I’ve seen it back since and it didn’t fall that kindly for him,” O’Neill said of the McGeady opportunity in the fourth minute of injury time, “but he has the ability, as he showed two years ago to get the ball under control and score. I did think for a second that it might have been his moment.”
O’Neill emphasised that he had always expected the game to be tough and repeated his observation that his side had been poor but said that he would now focus on Tuesday night when group leaders Serbia come to Dublin.
“We will have to do better,” he said, “give them less room to play than we did with the Georgians tonight. We will have to be at our very best if we are going to beat them but we can do that.”
James McClean claimed yet another man of the match award for a typical high-energy display, but the West Brom player was left frustrated by the outcome.
“It’s been a disappointing night, just not good enough on the night to be honest,” said McClean.
“All around we weren’t good enough: our passing, our energy, our defending, our finishing.
“They’re a lot better than what people think when you look at their results through the group.
“Saying that I believe we’re better, but tonight we didn’t show that – all over the pitch they were better, passed the ball better.
“We’ll have better nights; hopefully one of those will be on Tuesday.
“We know what we need to do Tuesday night, it’s as simple as that,” McClean added.
“If that goes to plan then tonight doesn’t matter but right now we’re disappointed and we’re a bit angry at ourselves.”