Good week, Bad week: Which players have made an impression on Martin O’Neill?

Six players who made their mark for Ireland, and five who will regret the events of the past week…

Good week, Bad week: Which players have made an impression on Martin O’Neill?

By Ger McCarthy

GOOD WEEK

Shane Long

The only Irish player to start both friendlies produced two all-action displays and is a certain starter up front for Martin O’Neill this summer. Used all his experience to win a pair of penalties against Slovakia and converted his own spot-kick with typical panache before retiring injured.

Shane Long is brought down for the first penalty by Matus Kozacik. Photo:INPHO/Donall Farmer
Shane Long is brought down for the first penalty by Matus Kozacik. Photo:INPHO/Donall Farmer

Shane Duffy

The Republic of Ireland’s standout individual in the 1-0 victory over Switzerland, Shane Duffy did his Euro 2016 prospects the power of good with an assist for Ciaran Clark’s winner and composed overall effort.

Ciaran Clark

As with his defensive partner against the Swiss, Ciaran Clark chose an opportune time to produce his best display in an Irish jersey. The 26-year old will have impressed his international manager with a well-taken goal but more so as a potential long-term successor to John O’Shea.

James McClean

Asked to play in an unaccustomed role up front, James McClean’s workrate and distribution meant the West Bromwich Albion midfielder was a constant threat to the Slovakian defence. Martin O’Neill may have unearthed an additional attacking option following the Derry native’s endeavours, topped off by a coolly converted penalty.

Eunan O’Kane

Bournemouth’s young midfielder made the most of his opportunity with a pair of eye-catching performances seven months on from a first international call-up. O’Kane looked confident in possession during his 30 minutes against the Swiss and equally composed in last night’s friendly with Slovakia.

Alan Judge

A solid if unspectacular international debut, Brentford’s Alan Jugde can be pleased with his efforts against the Swiss. The midfielder didn’t shirk a tackle and demonstrated enough potential to suggest he may feature once again in the near future.

BAD WEEK

Kevin Doyle

Colorado Rapids’ striker lasted a mere 22 minutes against Switzerland before being forced off with a nasty injury. Doyle will be gutted not to have had an opportunity to impress Martin O’Neill in a week the Irish manager’s attacking options were severely limited.

Rob Elliot

Rob Elliot lies injured on the ground following Slovakia's first goal. Photo: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Rob Elliot lies injured on the ground following Slovakia's first goal. Photo: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Only an unfortunate injury prevented Newcastle United’s in-form goalkeeper from putting pressure on Darren Randolph in their battle for the Irish number one jersey. Worryingly, Elliot could face a race against time to be fit for this summer’s tournament.

Aiden McGeady

McGeady’s brace of goals in the 2-1 qualifying victory away to Georgia seems like a lifetime ago. The Sheffield Wednesday winger made zero impact against Switzerland and is no longer certain of making the cut for Ireland’s 23-man European Championship squad.

Paul McShane

Darren Randolph is beaten as Paul McShane turns the ball in to his own net. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Darren Randolph is beaten as Paul McShane turns the ball in to his own net. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Caught out of position for both Slovakian goals, Paul McShane’s nervy performance came at the worst possible time for the Hull City defender following Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark’s headline-grabbing act against Switzerland.

Robbie Keane

Disappointingly, the Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer and captain missed both friendlies because of a persistent knee injury. Keane needs to make an appearance against the Netherlands on May 27 or else travel to France as part of Martin O’Neill’s backroom team.

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