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Friday 15 November 2019

Richard Dunne: Point will please Mick but Ireland need to force the game more

Republic of Ireland and Swiss players fight it out in
the final minutes
Republic of Ireland and Swiss players fight it out in the final minutes

We learned a few things from the qualifier at the Aviva last night, like the fact that Ireland have the heart and the resilience to keep going and get a result when it looks like it is going to slip away to another defeat.

But while Mick McCarthy, his staff and his players will feel happy with the point today, pleased with the shape of the group and confident that the Euros are still there for us, we need to learn on the front foot, to force the game.

There was nothing special about the Swiss last night, they are strong and well-organised but nothing much to fear, yet we didn't take them out of their comfort zone. If you force the game on them, make them work, it changes their mentality and makes them worry.

This Ireland side tends to react to things, like going a goal down, as they did in Denmark and they did again last night. I'd like to see the team being proactive instead of reactive, taking the lead instead of coming from behind.

Ireland had a really good spell in the lead up to the goal, but it's no good playing like that just for five minutes.

You can't play with that tempo and intensity for 90 minutes. But you can play that way for 20 or 25 minutes and Mick needs to be able to work that into the team, to get that intensity for long and maybe that will turn games into wins and not draws.

Ireland did what Ireland teams have always done when facing into a defeat: we go on the attack, go on the front foot, put enough pressure on the opposition and get enough of a reaction from the crowd to get the goal we needed. Do that for longer in the game and you might be able to beat a side like the Swiss.

Overall the match lacked any real quality but we got what we always expect from Ireland: discipline, hard work and commitment. That does count for a lot in international football.

It's been a hard few years for the Irish team and the players and I feel they still have that fear of losing, that idea of holding on to what they have, whether that's holding out for a draw at home or to a 1-0 lead and hope it's enough. I'd like to see the team play with intensity for longer.

Spectacle

The Swiss goal was probably the best bit of play in the game as a spectacle. The Irish goal was like one of those goals from the olden days, a great cross in from the wing and a striker doing well to beat his man and get the header in.

The draw is a point gamed and it's a good result for the staff. It didn't look that way in the few minutes after the Swiss scored, I think a lot of people felt that the Swiss had it and Ireland had no way back in, but the Irish way is to keep going and the team deserve their point.

And going forward into the final three qualifiers, I saw elements last night to show that we can win games, can score goals, can do well.

One concern I'd have is goal difference as Ireland's isn't great, you see Denmark going to Gibraltar last night and scoring six while we only scored one there.

The focus now has to be on Georgia next month as the team simply have to win there to take that onto Switzerland away and then Denmark at home.

Denmark in Dublin will be key. If we are held at 0-0 at home to the Danes, then there is the chance to throw everything at it in the last 20 minutes and that will probably be our best bet as we don't seem to be able to get on the front foot from early on against these teams.

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