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Route to Euro 2016 looks more rocky

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A dejected Aiden McGeady, Republic of Ireland, at the end of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

A dejected Aiden McGeady, Republic of Ireland, at the end of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

A dejected Aiden McGeady, Republic of Ireland, at the end of the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifier, Group D, Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

ON A night when so much of the attention focused on how the boos, jeers and catcalls of their support would impact this Euro 2016 qualifier, Scottish football spoke with a loud and clear voice last night.

The Scots, bereft of a major tournament since 1998, are back and Ireland's road to France 2016 will not be as smooth and as clear as we would have liked to think.

This 1-0 loss in Glasgow is by no means the end of the road for Ireland when it comes to the European Championships but the defeat underlined the threadbare nature of the Irish side as, with three key men in Marc Wilson, James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan missing, Ireland struggled to impose their game on an emotive night at Parkhead.

Last night's football in Group D was all about certain people making certain statements. Poland's win with a healthy scoreline and a clean sheet in Tbilisi not only finished off Temuri Ketsbaia as manager but also finished off Georgia as a potential challenger for a play-off place.

And it made a bold statement about Poland's position as leaders in Group D, teeing up the Ireland-Poland game next March as now a key battle in the race to make it to France 2016. Germany, as predicted, cruised to a win at home to a sorry Gibraltar and with six points on the way for Germany in their forthcoming games against Gibraltar (again) and a sorry Georgia side, the Germans are very much in the race.

It's hard to take too many lessons out of last night, though pre-match scaremongering by certain voices who should know better about potential crowd trouble was shown up, with just some minor scuffles in one section of the ground in the second half.

This was Championship fare, no wonder as there were 10 players from that division on the field at the start of the game and there was no real injection of glamour off the bench, and it's fitting that the only goal was scored by Shaun Maloney, a man who plays for a Championship club who sacked their manager only a few days ago due to their struggles at Wigan.

And while John O'Shea, Aiden McGeady and Seamus Coleman had a good night for Ireland - in relative terms - the best player on the park was Everton's Steven Naismith.

Not a classic game and not a classic performance, a night when it was all huff and puff with little time for magic or craft. Over the last week, almost every player who took part in the Scotland-Ireland game in Glasgow in 1987 was interviewed by the media in Ireland or Scotland. Let's just say that the newspapers of 2034 will not be bringing out commemorative supplements to recall the great Celtic battle of Parkhead of November 2014.

Ireland had some good moments with a decent spell in the second half as Aiden McGeady grew into the game, and there was a late flurry of hope when the bar was stuck in injury time.

But the Scots had their noses in front thanks to Maloney's well-taken goal on 75 minutes and, unlike in Gelsenkirchen a month ago, there was no injury-time response from Ireland. Now the long wait for Poland's visit but the journey from Ireland to France now looks a lot more tricky.

IN GLASGOW


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