Poland 0 Rep of Ireland 0: Three talking points
Poland 0 Rep of Ireland 0: Three talking points as Martin O'Neill's men play out a stalemate in Poznan on Tuesday night
Ireland are capable of winning away
The Republic of Ireland travelled to Poznan to play Poland, with many pundits and fans very wary of the potentially tricky task that lay ahead. In the end, their caution was warranted as Adam Nawalka’s side were a completely transformed side from the team that fell to a 2-0 defeat against Slovakia last week. With the home side pushing high up the pitch in an effort to pressurize the Irish, and the visitors attempting to do likewise, much of the early exchanges resulted in the play becoming quite concentrated in the middle of the park. But eventually, the match opened up as chances began to be created and the players found their rhythm. Importantly, what Martin O’ Neill and Roy Keane will take away from Tuesday’s result is that the key members of the squad are more than capable of getting results on the road. While the next few months will be spent moulding and shaping the side into a squad of players they want to use, the two managers now know their core group are capable of standing up and being counted against a spirited opponent.
Poland need to start putting away chances
With another game passing them by without managing to score a goal, it would be quite natural for the fans to start worrying about their ongoing goal-drought. Even with Robert Lewandowski – whose scoring for fun in the Bundesliga – in the side, the hosts still couldn’t find a way past Irish ‘keeper David Forde. And what’s even more unnerving for them is that they were the team on top for much of the second half and yet still came away with nothing to show for their efforts. Clearly, this is something that they need to start addressing, although it would be unfair to lay the blame solely at their feet as Ireland’s defenders put in some very industrious performances in the second period. For now, they will be content at having gotten back on their feet, but more improvements in the final third is something that must take priority if they are to seriously consider qualifying for France 2016. Watch this space.
Future looks bright for the Republic
Undefeated after two games in charge with two clean sheets and not a whisper of controversy – it’s fair to say that the future of Irish football under O’ Neill and Keane is looking pretty rosy. But as soon as they can finalise their own squad and cut all ties with their predecessors, that is when the real effect of their tenure will come into effect. Make no mistake, getting off to a positive start was always going to be their target ahead of their opening spate of friendlies, but building for the long-term future must now become their main goal. The European championship may yet be some way off, but preparation and planning will already be starting to get under way. And with the Boys in Green not in action again until March 2014, one can be sure that the work behind the scenes will continue at some pace until all is set for their first competitive fixture on the road to France.