Republic of Ireland 1 Estonia 1: Lessons from a Green party
What did we learn from the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Estonia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday?
Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan’s partnership is evolving
Great Irish midfielders of the past include Johnny Giles, Liam Brady and Roy Keane – and in comparison to such an illustrious list, it is easy to see why the midfield pairing of Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan fails to thrill Irish supporters. However, they are undeniably effective. Over the two play-off ties the duo have slowly started to win over the critics. Admittedly they may not possess the authority of Giles, display the skill of Brady or hold the presence of Keane – but the duo are a vital cog in Giovanni Trapattoni’s side and they have played an important role in securing Ireland’s passage to Euro 2012.
Ireland need Aiden McGeady’s flair
Trapattoni opted to start Stephen Hunt ahead of Aiden McGeady and it was a move which backfired. Hunt offers Trapattoni both an offensive and defensive option. The Wolverhampton Wanderers winger tirelessly covered the right wing – but he was unable to find a way past Estonia’s Taijo Teniste. McGeady made his entrance after 60 minutes and immediately offered a creative outlet. The CSKA Moscow winger has the ability to unlock defences with his pace and dribbling skills. And while the end product might ““ on occasion ““ be missing, he still leaves defenders with a headache. The ‘Irish Messi’ needs to be given a place in this side to add some flair to an otherwise efficient midfield.
Damien Duff’s renaissance continues
The Aviva Stadium witnessed a throwback to the Damien Duff of old on Tuesday night. The Fulham midfielder tormented Estonia right-back Enar Jaagar with his devilish trickery and relentless running on the right wing. The 32-year-old has enjoyed a rebirth since his move to Craven Cottage, and while his pace may have diminished, none of his ingenuity has. In an exciting five-minute spell, Duff deceived Jaager with a deft flick past the defender before delivering a cross into the box. Seconds later he showed excellent close control to dance his away around the Estonia captain Konstantin Vassiljev. Duff was one of Ireland’s standout performers at the 2002 World Cup – and a decade later he is set to thrill again.
Ireland at Euro 2012 ““ what can Irish fans expect?
The Republic’s excellent run of consecutive clean sheets may have come to an end due to Shay Given’s unfortunate error – but the Irish back four will still be the vital platform for success at Euro 2012. Croatia, Italy and Russia all failed to find the net against Trapattoni’s side in a sequence spanning 10 games without conceding. And as thoughts turn to next summer’s tournament, Ireland have a strong chance proceeding past the group stages with their defensive capabilities ensuring they will be difficult for any opposition to break down.
The colourful Green Army will light up Poland and Ukraine
The Irish supporters kept themselves entertained during the duller moments of the match by floating paper aeroplanes down on the Aviva Stadium pitch. Shay Given ““ who had little to do in the first half ““ earned his wage by keeping the turf litter free. And the second half began with a relentless Mexican wave – even the small contingent of Estonia fans got involved. Next summer’s tournament will undoubtedly benefit from the atmosphere created by the travelling Green Army.