Andrews admits display wouldn't be good enough against Croatia
KEITH ANDREWS laughs at the notion that his move and pass that set up Simon Cox for Ireland's equalising goal against the Czech Republic was one of the best moves of the night.
"There weren't many to pick from, were there?" the Dubliner joked, aware that the preceding 90 minutes had not exactly thrilled the Dublin crowd of 37,741.
"We weren't at our best last night. But I think it is a positive when you can play not so well and still come out with a draw.
"It was just disappointing that we dropped off after the first 10 minutes.
"We started the game well, but after that 10-15-minute spell we dropped off and let the Czechs dictate the play, we didn't squeeze the ball up high enough.
"At half time, we had a chat and said we had to go again, and we got our goal from doing that, from squeezing them high up, the back four being right up behind the midfield, and in the last 20 minutes we looked dangerous.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, we have to do better against the Croatians in the summer.
"We know from playing them here in Dublin in a friendly last year what a good side they are. They are very good at keeping possession, they like to keep hold of the ball and dictate the game. It's something we will have to work on," added Andrews.
"We will try and learn the lessons of last night and the last few days. The manager stresses and preaches that we are still unbeaten and a draw is a good result.
"Finals tournament can be about grinding out results, you need to be hard to beat and we are that, we haven't lost in a long time now.
"But we can play better, and if we can do that while keeping our character and that hard-to-beat mentality, we can be a force to be reckoned with."
One aspect of the night which was pleasing was the welcome given to Ireland's newest cap, James McClean, who lifted the entire crowd when he came on for Aiden McGeady in the final 10 minutes.
"I'm not sure if that came from the Sunderland supporters' club or the Derry mafia who were down in Dublin for the night or a mixture of the two, but it was a nice welcome for him," joked Andrews.
"He deserves his chance with the national team, he has been fantastic with Sunderland over the last couple of months and is here on merit.
"It's always great to see an Irish lad emerge and he has done so well with his club.
"He came in here with the Irish squad and settled straight in, he will be a big player for us," added the West Brom man.
The finals are a long way away but with Richard Dunne already an injury concern, Ireland don't need ant more worries on the injury front, but eight minutes from half time there was some concern when Andrews went down clutching his knee after a clash with Milan Petrzela.
"It probably looked bad at the time but it was more of a dead leg than anything else," said Andrews. "I had a strike a few minutes after that and the knee was a bit sore but it got better after a while and I was able to finish the game. Last Saturday was my first 90 minutes in a while so I did feel a bit tired at times in the game. And I took a knock as well in the game so that slowed me down, but I'll be fine for my club."