No sexy football but Ireland reach a perfect 10

‘I’m going on me holidays with 10 points. That was the total I had in mind when we started.’

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy: “I’d love to have turned everybody on with some sexy football but, ultimately, we have won the game.”

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy: “I’d love to have turned everybody on with some sexy football but, ultimately, we have won the game.”

 

Mick McCarthy knows who his reliables are. They have not changed. Nor will they. Seamus Coleman is the leader, followed in times of trouble by James McClean and Robbie Brady.

The rest have some gelling to do. Like, taking an obvious example, Conor Hourihane and Shane Duffy. A symbiotic relationship between this pair - more accurately, Hourihane’s left foot off corners finding Duffy’s forehead - must develop if qualification for Euro 2020 is to become a reality.

“I’ll be scouring the planet to see if we can get more invention and creativity,” McCarthy smiled. “That would be lovely. The lads I got have really worked hard. I have no criticism of them. They have been brilliant.

“I’d love to have turned everybody on with some sexy football but, ultimately, we have won the game.”

In the meantime, holidays begin with everyone safe in the knowledge that four points from two June qualifiers is the ideal return.

The performance can and will be shelved. McClean’s excellent injury time delivery for Brady’s goal - another left foot finding a less expected forehead - makes that possible.

“Feels great. I’m going on me holidays with 10 points. That was the total I had in mind when we started. A draw in Denmark. I am happy.”

What followed was the opposite of former manager Martin O’Neill’s confrontational style when interviewed by RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue.

“What’s really disappointing is I have a bunch of lads in there who felt like we lost,” McCarthy continued. “The dressing room is all quiet. ‘What’s wrong with ye? We got the three points we wanted to get.’ We have had something like 40 crosses, 30 shots, more corners. We’ve just not put them in the net.

“Maybe we should congratulate them for being so belligerent and condemn us a little but for being profligate.”

McCarthy had enough of the negative narrative when he arrived into the main media centre.

“I think you are being disrespectful of Gibraltar. I. Am. Happy. With. Ten. Points.

“I can’t even hear myself speak with the typewriters going in here.”

The tip tapping only intensified as printing presses began to run in another place.

“I chose Robbie Brady,” he replied when a question came about not using his last sub.

“We shouldn’t have been trying to play through the middle. That wasn’t the game plan.”

McCarthy turned the rest of the press conference into an argument.

“I am amazed at the reaction after winning two-nil. In the dressing room they got that feeling . . . I’d like to have seen us score more goals but we haven’t.”

Disappointed with the crossing? “The players are disappointed. They weren’t as good as they would like to be.”

Twelve corners? “I thought they got their heads on them which disappointed me slightly.”

Epilogue to a very long season. For the first time in “960 odd games” the Republic of Ireland team bus stuttered to a halt, on the Navan Road, en route to the Aviva stadium.

“I’m not a mechanic. They are computers, aren’t they? If the computer says ‘no’ then we are not going anywhere.”

There is a metaphor hidden deep in those words.

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