Larry Ryan picks out five things we probably knew already from Ireland's draw with Denmark...


Alas, it turns out you can lose 1-1 too

Larry Ryan picks out five things we probably knew already from Ireland's draw with Denmark...

Alas, it turns out you can lose 1-1 too

Larry Ryan picks out five things we probably knew already from Ireland's draw with Denmark...

This was stick rather than twist

It has been that kind of campaign for Ireland, an exercise in brinkmanship, with Mick McCarthy seemingly content to leave it until the latest possible moment to make his decisive move. Ireland as a long-distance runner with a lethal kick.

Some of that was down to the convoluted qualification process — since it seemed impossible to be eliminated from Euro 2020 contention, what need for urgency?

The team Mick picked suggested he was prepared to wait a little longer, Alan Browne preferred to an attacker on the right, as Ireland appeared content to pack the midfield and stifle, forewarned of Christian Eriksen’s capacity to exploit Aviva space.

The Danes had the same idea

Åge Hareide’s boys didn’t exactly sprint from the blocks either. As our Danish correspondent Morten Glinvad told us this week, Hareide’s functional approach has essentially cost him his job, despite a useful tendency to never lose any matches.

Two years ago, ahead of the play-off second leg with Martin O’Neill’s men, Hareide insisted he hadn’t the patience to play wait-and-see football like Ireland. But he appears to have gained a little forbearance in the interim. Perhaps the two enforced first-half changes rattled the visitors, but Ireland enjoyed the better opportunities of a largely uneventful, but encouraging first half.

And at one point, George Hamilton and Ronnie Whelan jubilantly noted that the home side had actually shaded possession, 56% to 44%.

Putting ’em under pressure

The pre-cooked narrative suggested we’d wait for the substitutes’ arrival, for the big push. But Ireland lengthened stride in the third quarter, as this gradually morphed into the best outing of Mick McCarthy’s second coming. By the hour, we’d avenged the pain of that play-off exit, at least on the corner count, which read 5-1. There were enterprising flashes from Doherty, Browne and Hourihane, though McClean’s delivery continued to frustrate.

For the long-suffering Ireland supporter, there are some mixed feelings. Score now and we’d inevitably be subjected to 25 minutes of backs-to-the-wall terror. So we didn’t score.

Holding out for a hero

It was a night for a hero, Mick McCarthy had reminded us beforehand, and the first potential candidate summoned was Callum Robinson on 68 minutes. Instead, Martin Braithwaite stole in four minutes later for a heist that will haunt the watchman on duty, Matt Doherty.

Maybe Hareide would even prefer winning ugly, as a parting shot. Last month, he reminded his adopted land: “To me, good football is winning matches. Only that. That’s all that matters, especially for a national team.”

Joining the Dots

It would have been an unfortunate blot on the stop-start career of a player who hasn’t yet been able to convince his Ireland managers. So if there was a silver lining to the night, it was that Doherty immediately redeemed himself with the leveller.

Unfortunately, after many famous 1-1 Irish victories over the years, it turns out you can lose 1-1 too. Nevertheless,it was a performance that packs some sustenance for the interminable road back to Dublin 2020.

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