A larger than usual media presence in the press conference room at the Aviva Stadium immediately after the Republic of Ireland’s 2-0 win over Gibraltar suggested that journalists were interested to hear what the Republic of Ireland manager’s summation of the night’s events would be.
Critics were, as they tend to be, critical on the night. Many with Irish interests were demanding “A 5-0 win or more for The Boys in Green“. Considering how deep Gibraltar defended throughout the evening, a scoreline that would fill a hand of digits was always going to be unlikely.
And so it proved. The home side huffed and puffed all night and were totally dominant for virtually the entire 96 minutes, but struggled to break down a packed defense.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was initially asked after the match if he felt frustrated on the night.
His response: “No, I wasn’t frustrated with the game. Did they get in our box in the 90 minutes? I’m not sure. (Georgia had one half-blocked shot from Walker from five yards outside the Ireland box which Randolph saved easily). We’ve been profligate, wasteful and couldn’t deliver the final pass.”
It was brought up to the Ireland manager if his side might regret not scoring more goals against comfortably the weakest nation in the group, to which McCarthy replied:
“I think you all have been very disrespectful to Gibraltar. We weren’t expecting a free-flowing festival of football. At the end of the group, if it comes down to goal difference and we miss out on goal difference, I might regret it (not scoring more against Gibraltar) then.”
As so often happens with Mick McCarthy, the questioning took a humorous. The 60 year-old was asked: “You didn’t make a third substitution tonight. Why didn’t you?”
“I didn’t want to” being the succinct reply!
“You didn’t make a third substitution tonight Mick. Why didn’t you?”
Mick McCarthy: “I didn’t want to!”
“I think Calum Robinson played well but I had to take him off. Everyone except Didsy (McGoldrick) hasn’t had much game time.”
McCarthy said that he was pleased with the current Ireland haul of 10 points from the four first qualifying matches, that 10 points from the first four matches was his target at the start of the campaign at what is now the midway point of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
The man who captained Ireland to the quarter-final of the 1990 World Cup was pushed repeatedly into what his points target is for the second half of the qualification campaign but he would not enter into such wondering.
McCarthy moved on to say that he was amazed at the reaction in the dressing room immediately after the match, everyone seemed like they were not happy. “I’m happy, we’ve got 10 points and I’m off my holiday” being his summation.
McCarthy alluded to the fact that he’d like if the game-plan had been implemented a little better and if the many, many crosses (45 in total from Ireland) could have been more incisive.
Performance wise, what would McCarthy be looking to improve on going forward?
“We’ve had two disappointing performances against Gibraltar. I don’t expect Switzerland to play as defensively minded. The Switzerland games will be very different. They’ll come out to play. Gibraltar were happy to defend for the entire match, even when they were losing. Switzerland won’t play like that, they’ll come out to play which will naturally leave gaps in their final third and we’ll aim to exploit that,” was McCarthy’s response.
“What happened the team bus on the way to the game?”
“It broke down.”
“Can you elaborate on that please?”
“It wouldn’t go any further!”
Finally, McCarthy was asked if he had watched and been monitoring the Republic of Ireland Under-21s at the Toulon Tournament and he referred to the expected “goal-fest” the underage team were expecting to inflict on Bahrain going into the third game:
“Yeah, I watched yesterday’s game. China beat Bahrain (and Ireland beat China 4-1 in the first match) so I bet everyone was expecting a goal-fest yesterday when Ireland played Bahrain and it wasn’t a goal-fest. Won 1-nil, missed a penalty and other chances and it wasn’t a goal-fest but they’re in the semi-final.”