Ireland vs Georgia : Match report

Ireland 1-0 Georgia

Capacity: 40,317

There hasn’t been as much excitement around Irish football since the 2002 World Cup in Japan. That was an anti-climax then leaving fans enraged professional footballers couldn’t solve their differences. This time round it’s the white shirts in Irish football that can’t solve their differences, in their accounts.

 Despite what was happening off the pitch, fans who turned up, with tennis balls or not, chanted “come on you boys in green”, something Delaney might say to a wad of cash. Jokes aside, this game must have been difficult for players and management alike to focus on with all the revelations concerning the FAI’s finances in recent days.

Within the first ten minutes Ireland were controlling, with Georgia being unable to keep possession. Ireland’s first real chance came from a Hendrick tackle that set up Conor Hourihane, who had Brady running into free space but decided to go alone for only the keeper Loria to make a vital save to keep his clean sheet at this early stage in the game.

 A minute later Robbie Brady had his chance with a free kick, with Hourihane on his shoulder trying to persuade him let him take a shot. Brady was not going to start giving him his free kicks, so Brady let fly but miss-hit the ball and it was blocked easily by the wall.

 It was non-stop attack by Ireland from then on and within seconds another free kick for McClean who cut it across the 18-yard for it to land at Brady’s feet again, but he scuffed it over the bar.

Tackling by the Irish seemed like taking candy from a baby. Slide tackles abundant for the cameras, it was time to look good. But going forward with so many options the players picked the difficult ones instead of trying to build a move. Ireland were desperately trying to get that first goal on the scoreboard by whatever means necessary.  

Halfway into the first half and all that running and pushing by the Irish team had come to nothing. Their pressing began to slow down allowing Georgia to play around a bit which showed the crowd some close control and teamwork they had. But when the ball was in their half they struggled getting it out of it with the majority of the plays into the Irish half coming from their goalkeeper.

A lot of Ireland’s chances went through McClean on the left while Captain Coleman pushed higher and higher on the right as time went on. Narrowly missing an illegal tackle by a Georgian defender, his first attempt coming from that side.

Tennis balls began to fly before Ireland’s next free kick and the ball boys had their work cut out for them. A wry smile from Mick McCarthy and loud cheers from the crowd. Perhaps Penn have taken over the contract from Three, said one supporter…Let the game continue say everybody.

Hourihane hit the free-kick this time with his left and it swings in ..GOAL!!! more tennis balls thrown on and they were flung back into the crowd by Hourihane. 1-0 Ireland!

Some crazy tackling by Georgia followed but yet still no cards given. Approaching half-time and Georgia were dead set on not letting another one in before they regroup at half –time. They too felt Ireland were there for the taking…like someone else I care not to mention.  

Only minutes into the second half and McClean brings down Otar Kakabadze on the edge of the box and is carded. Valerian Gvillia takes it with his right but it too is high and the crowd mock the attempt. McLean is then brought down by Kakabadze in Ireland’s next attempt similar position to Georgia’s free-kick. Hourihane takes it with his left but Kakabadze takes an elbow to the teeth and play is stopped.

The game restarts and Georgia’s best chance of the game transpires. A beautiful pass into Georgia forward Gvillia lands on his head but he directs it wide. Ireland get a chance to play around a bit and execute incisive passing in through Georgia’s midfield and then defence for Hendrick to end up tapping it in, albeit at the wrong side of his teammates. It’s offside. Georgia make an attempt for a counter-attack but it’s stopped short. It’s only one-nil and Georgia have drawn with Ireland more times than lost in recent matches so the odds are in their favour if they can keep it at one down.

More corners for Ireland but Georgia’s goalkeeper Giorgi Loria keeps punching them away. Calls for a penalty when David McGoldrick tries to block Georgia’s Guran Kashia from intercepting, McGoldrick fails to trick the referee on this occasion.

Ireland press again down the left side with Enda Stevens finally getting a shot on goal only to catch him off balance and the ball wobbles wide. Most of threat coming from Ireland here is from the wing backs Enda Stevens and Seamus Coleman with McGoldrick being the focal point of play. But he’s not getting the crosses back as they keep being over hit and end up on the far wing.  At times it does seem like a game of tennis between these two wing-backs as none of the crosses are on point and just go from side to side.

But immediately after this attempt by Enda Stevens he is again in possession but this time in his left back position and produces a long ball down to McGoldrick who beats the keeper only to beat him by too much and he can’t catch the ball before it goes out.

Robbie Brady comes off for Aidan O Brien in the 73rd minute. His first touch he spreads it across the 6-yard box but it’s either behind or out of reach of his teammates.

On the 80th minute McGoldrick goes off with a standing ovation from the crowd to allow Matthew Doherty on up front on his own. Who comes on immediately chasing balls but Georgia won’t let him have it and finally challenge Randolph with a 25 yard shot from Jaba Kankava, which has him at arms stretched to tip it away and deny the Georgian midfielder. He gets a second chance minutes later but is closed down before taking aim.

McCarthy is still asking his players in the final minutes to keep pushing forward but Georgia get another chance only to find its way into Randolph’s hands. There is some nice play by Ireland but unfortunately this style of game is more suited for Wimbledon.  A second win for Ireland and the crowd are appeased.  

By Paul Carton

Online Editor