Wednesday 26 October 2016

Robbie Brady is the pick of the bunch for Ireland to stake a claim for Scotland

Robbie does Sterling work to stake a claim

Raheem Sterling and Robbie Brady
Raheem Sterling and Robbie Brady

NOT A lot of sweat, quality, or good memories to be banked from this 0-0 draw on a sunny Dublin day.

Mick McCarthy, in his time as Ireland manager, used to say that he hated the term 'friendly international' and preferred to call them 'non-competitive games'.

Most of the fans who streamed away from Lansdowne Road and into the rest of their afternoon won't have cared what term was given to the match they'd just witnessed.

Their main thought being 'that's 90 minutes of my life I won't get back'. Maybe there's a FIFA fund they could appeal to to get their money back?

For Ireland, the positives were some money in the FAI's coffers (a crowd of 43,486 was not a full-house but it's hard to see Ireland even getting a gate like that for a friendly against many other teams), a clean sheet (at last) for Martin O'Neill and some of the post-season blues and cobwebs brushed off.

READ MORE: Robbie Brady impresses boss Martin O'Neill in stalemate

But the main bonus of the day for O'Neill was the sight of Robbie Brady at left back, and, as Scotland's visit now looms large, O'Neill has a big call to make on who gets the slot on Saturday.

Stephen Ward had been the established man in that position, but recent injury problems (he hasn't started a game since early December) will count against him when O'Neill sits down with his staff to make that decision.


What will have impressed O'Neill was Brady's delivery from dead-ball situations. In the past we have been blessed with full backs who were very handy when it came to free-kicks and penalties, Denis Irwin and Ian Harte, despatching many a goal from their full-back role.

"Hopefully if I'm playing against Scotland we can get a few free-kicks and put a couple of good deliveries in for the lads and I'm sure they'll do the rest," said Brady after winning his 13th cap.

"It's an important factor in every game you play so hopefully if I do get the chance to put in some good balls I'll look forward to it," added Brady, uncertain if his dead-ball ability can win him that place in the team for Scotland's visit.

"I'm not sure. It depends what the gaffer is looking for and if he needs me to do it. If he has a chat with me during the week and says that's a factor he's looking for I'll be more than happy to keep on practicing," he says.

"I thought we did alright and put in a decent performance. Nil-nil was probably a fair enough result in the end but we had a couple of chances so we're a bit disappointed we didn't get the win. It was a good work-out and hopefully it will put us in good stead for next week," added Brady, who, he concedes, is still a novice at this level.

"You learn in every game you play, but with the lads behind me yesterday and talking to me during the week, it's helped me and I quite enjoyed it.

"The more you play the more familiar you get with the position so I'm looking forward to the weekend and hopefully getting a start," says the Hull man.


One of the bizarre aspects of this dull friendly yesterday was the booing by a section of the Dublin crowd of Raheem Sterling. Given that the England man did little in the game, it wasn't a case of the Irish fans trying to unsettle a key player for the opposition (Sterling appeared to be in holiday mode already and oblivious to the catcalls) and the boos were certainly not directed against Sterling because of the colour of his skin.

No, some Irish people, who paid good money to come and support their national team yesterday - in their own country - also appear to support Liverpool FC and therefore decided that it was necessary to boo Sterling, as the player's contractual wrangle with an English club was somehow deemed to be relevant to an international game.

For his part, Brady was pleased to keep Sterling quiet.

"It was alright," Brady says of that battle.

"I played against him a couple of times this season and it was okay, but you've got to be aware. He's a top player and can open you up at any minute, like the rest of them can, so you've got to be switched on at all times."

Players stay switched on, fans switched off their TVs during the 0-0 draw, but it's now a whole new ball game as the Scots come to town.

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