Player Ratings – Ireland vs Slovakia

Last night Irish coach Martin O’Neill made 10 changes to the side that beat Switzerland 1-0 on Friday.Here are my player ratings for the Republic of Ireland team that drew 2-2 with Slovakia:


Rob Eliot: Was given a chance in goal as O’Neill had promised him following his performances at Newcastle this season. Could do very little to stop the first goal due to a defensive mishap in front of him. Unlucky to pick up a knee injury when diving to prevent that goal which forced him off. 5

Cyrus Christie: Coleman may have the starting spot but Chrisite looks to be the real deal as a back up. Got forward plenty of times and his pace troubled the Slovaks. Made a number of fantastic crosses the best falling to Wes Hoolahan who unfortunately isn’t much of a threat in the air.Solid in defence when tested. Very impressive. 8

Paul McShane: An absolute nightmare of a first half for McShane. He kicked his first pass straight out of play and was caught on the half way line which led to the opening goal.Then to top his night off McShane deflected a Slovakian cross into his own net leveling the sides. Did his hopes of winning a seat on the plane to France no favours last night. 4

John O’Shea: The most experienced center-back showed all of his skill last night and ordered the defence in the first half. Wasn’t at fault for either goal and was confident when on the ball. Replaced at halftime to give Pearce a run. 6

Stephen Ward: Ward played well for most of the game. Was beaten too easily on the wing for the second goal but looked to be a threat going forward as the game progressed. 6

Glenn Whelan: Was at fault along side McShane for the first goal and didn’t track back to stop it. Played a few good passes but it wasn’t a stellar performance. 6

Eunan O’Kane: Making just his second cap last night O’Kane looks to be a serious contender for a place in the 23 man squad. He found space all over the pitch and got involved in most attacks. Has a touch of class about himself and played well for his first international start. 7

James McCarthy: Made a brilliant statement of intent with a textbook sliding tackle in the opening minutes. He was much more involved last night and played a key role in starting attacks.Comfortable in possession his presence in midfield was clear to see compared to Friday. A strong performance from McCarthy. 8

Wes Hoolahan: Where do we start. This man had his hand in everything last night.His passing was sublime and was involved in pretty much every attack. Filled the void when Long was replaced and nearly got a winner late on but just doesn’t have the height for an aerial challenge. 9

James McClean:  Silenced critics last night who doubted his ability upfront. He was all over the attacking third and provided support to Long in the first half. Took the second penalty and buried it (his first professional penalty by the way) . His pace is a massive advantage and if he can work on his shooting McClean is a perfect backup behind Long and Walters. 8

Shane Long: What a player. Long is a hardworking striker who literally runs for every ball he can. His determination won the first penalty which he dispatched perfectly. Minutes later Long won the second. His first touch to bring the ball under control while knocking it past Skrtel allowed him to run through drawing the foul. Picked up a knock in that challenge and was quite for the remainder of the half. Taken off at halftime as a precaution he appeared happy on the bench when the camera panned to him. Easily the best striker in the squad. 9


Darren Randolph: Was his usual composed self in goal. Linked up with Long for the second penalty. Took care of short balls passed back to him and was unlucky with the McShane goal but had no chance to stop that. Solid once again. 7

Robbie Brady: Replaced Long at halftime Brady put in another good performance operating in midfield this time.Looked eager to score and had once chance sail wide. His crossing was as consistent as ever and he seemed delighted to have freedom in attack without worrying about tracking back. 7

Alex Pearce: Replaced John O’Shea at halftime and to be honest didn’t do much. Wasn’t at fault for any howlers and didn’t concede. 6

Aiden McGeady: Came on for Hoolahan but couldn’t play the type of ball Wes can. Did nice work in midfield but wasn’t up to much. 6

Anthony Pilkington: Was full of energy when he came on up top. Was available for every attack and brought physicality to the attack. Chased down every ball and showed passion. 6

Johnny Hayes: Didn’t get much time to show what he can do. Disappointing following his good display on Friday. 5

Wes Hoolahan was outstanding last night.

The manager- It’s hard to find fault with O’Neill. He rotated the squad giving everybody a chance to impress. His gamble with McClean paid off well and can be happy with an improved performance from what we saw on Friday. The teams passing was superb and he now has a clearer picture as to who he will bring to the Euros.8

Man of the Match- Wes Hoolahan: From the first kick of the game Hoolahan was involved in all the action. Covered ground in midfield and passed as well as Andres Iniesta. A fantastic player who deserved the standing ovation he received when subbed off. Shane Long was also a contender for this award but Wes pips him.


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