Three things we learned from Ireland V Poland

John O'Shea gets to grips with Robert Lewandowski last night. Picture: Niall Carson

1. James McCarthy is yet to convince at international level 
2. Know where your tickets are going 
3. Robert Lewandowski is the real deal 

James McCarthy is yet to convince at international level

Liam Brady’s criticism of McCarthy in Saturday’s Irish Examiner shone an even bigger spotlight on the midfielder’s worth to the Irish cause.

It’s two years this week since McCarthy gave a masterclass in Stockholm but his input since, mainly due to unavailability, has been meagre.

Last night didn’t enhance his status any further as he failed to impose himself in a green jersey once again.

Perhaps the deep role Martin O’Neill assigned him to counteract Poland’s breaks didn’t play to his strengths so apparent in the Everton team.

But, on the evidence of this latest underwhelming display, the Glaswegian still has a way to go for his name to be even considered amongst the pantheon of Irish midfield greats that Brady holds pride of place in. In fact, he was lucky to stay on the pitch for a petty slap on his marker late on.

Know where your tickets are going

It was evident a couple of hours before kick-off around the Aviva Stadium that visitors Poland would be backed by a sizeable support.

Not alone was the north stand, usually reserved for away supporters, full but it extended into the lower section of the east stand, while the upper south stand was dominated by red and white.

For a match in which tickets was supposedly in high demand by Irish fans, why were many still seeking them after the sold-out sign went up weeks ago?

At a conservative estimate, 20,000 punters were present shouting for the Group D leaders. And when Roy Keane’s rallying call to the Irish players of starting on the front foot to enthuse the home crowd failed to materialise, it made the Polish army all the more noisy.

Robert Lewandowski is the real deal

World-class stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Alaba had major parts to play in Dublin during the last campaign in ending Ireland’s World Cup qualification ambitions.

Whilst Bayern Munich star Lewandowski didn’t score — for the fourth qualifier running — his contribution to Poland’s rise to table-toppers has been immense.

Ploughing a lone furrow up front last night, the Polish captain’s close control and awareness had the Irish defence chasing shadows at times.

When there was an element of desperation to his own defence’s clearances in his first half amid some Irish pressure, the skipper gestured to the back four to relax. Minutes later, the message had an impact when a couple of passes ripped the Irish defence apart and the opener was buried.



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