Three players who staked a claim

Paul Green

He was one of the curiosities of the Trapattoni regime and the player considered the most likely to lose out from the change of manager, but the midfielder will have won some admirers here.

The problem with Green was never what he actually did, but what he represented: the Italian’s utter unwillingness to take into account form or performance. To his credit, there could be little criticising Green’s own performance last night. He was reliable and sometimes rousing, especially as the game went on and Poland enjoyed territorial superiority. Green ended up everywhere he needed to be. Man of the match.

Marc Wilson

Other than the way Aiden McGeady is used, the deployment of Wilson is arguably the biggest individual departure from the old regime. The use of a ball-playing defender at the very heart of the backline, rather than someone who mostly specialises in ball-winning, indicates a willingness to actually construct moves from there rather than just end them. Wilson did that part reasonably last night, but also proved the tougher side of his game, not least in the ongoing battle with Robert Lewandowski. The Stoke defender stood right up to the Pole in one head-to-head confrontation and generally remained steady. He looks like a fixture in that position.

Stephen Ward

While virtually no Irish player other than Keith Andrews enjoyed a good Euro 2012, it was probably the left-back who suffered the most in Poland. This Poznan pitch was also the site of his worst display, as Ward made some awful errors that gifted Croatia their goals in that terminal first game. As such, you perhaps could have excused a certain stage fright last night. Against Poland, there was none of it, as Ward looked so much more assured. There wasn’t a hint of reservation, even when Poland began to run at Ireland more in the second half.


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