herald

Friday 30 September 2016

Mighty Quinn the big winner but sloppy goal is a concern

Stephen Quinn in action against Holland last night
Stephen Quinn in action against Holland last night

Harry Arter got booked for a foul on €35million man Memphis Depay in Dublin last night, we know that much.

Whether the Bournemouth man booked his seat on the plane to France when Ireland fly out in 11 days' time is not so clear-cut.

With his decent display in last night's win over Holland in Dublin Arter, at least, did not play his way out of contention, as Paul McShane did in his audition two months ago. In what was only his second cap and his first start on the international stage, Arter looked as composed as you'd expect from a player with his Premier League experience and he's certainly in Martin O'Neill's mind as the Ireland manager ponders his final 23-man squad between today and Tuesday night's deadline.

But Stephen Quinn was the big winner from last night's action, his busy and effective contribution before he was replaced on 66 minutes an encouraging sign.

Shane Duffy also shone until he was caught out for a late Holland equaliser, but Arter and David McGoldrick still have some work to do.

Ireland's defence will be tested in France with the scary thought of what an in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Eden Hazard could do to an Irish defence which - Gibraltar apart - has not kept a clean sheet on foreign soil in two years.

That Irish defensive unit was, until a flurry in the last 20 minutes, barely tested by a limp-looking Holland side which did wake up late on. Holland's front three last night of Memphis, Promes and Janssen (good name for a trio of cops in one of those Scandi-dramas on BBC4) are valued at €60m, AZ Alkmaar man Janssen linked with a number of Premier League clubs, but apart from Janssen's chance on 68 minutes, they didn't muster an attempt on goal and it fell to sub Luuk de Jong, a one-time flop at Newcastle United, to profit from some sleepy Irish defending five minutes from time and equalise.

Darren Randolph didn't really need to prove that he was Ireland's No. 1 as he travels with that status intact but he had one of the quieter nights of his career last night, barely touching the ball in the first 45 minutes, though the manner in which Ireland allowed Holland, improved by some second-half subs, get into the game and earn a draw.

Ireland's only goal at Euro 2012 came from a set-piece and while the goal last night was scrappy, the manner of its arrival will have pleased O'Neill, Brady again the instigator with his dead-ball delivery and if Brady can provide more of those in France, the chances of John O'Shea, Richard Keogh or Shane Duffy - and the big man from Derry had another accomplished performance last night before he was caught out for De Jong's headed goal - then it can only bode well.

The points for O'Neill to stress to his players weekend will be the need for concentration as the concession in France of a late goal like Holland's last night could be costly, but in Quinn and possibly After, O'Neill may have his midfield complete.

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