SportSoccer

Ireland get the vital win they needed

SoccerBy John Brennan
The crucial moment....Walters scores
The crucial moment....Walters scores

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: 1 GEORGIA: 0

It took a while, but Ireland got there in the end.

Jon Walters' priceless goal in the 69th minute of a very poor quality Group D qualifier at the Aviva Stadium keeps the Boys in Green in line for at least a play-off shot at getting to Euro 2016.

Scotland's 3-2 defeat against Germany in Glasgow was another bonus for Martin O'Neill with Ireland now firmly in control of third place in the table.

Certainly O'Neill would have taken plenty of stick had Walters not tapped in from two yards after great work by Jeff Hendrick down the Irish left, when the Derby man beat three defenders with some tasty footwork.

It was the one moment of true class in the whole match, with the goal was a rare shaft of light in what was a very poor game in which Ireland's players often failed the basics of ball control and good passing when facing limited opponents.

The Irish manager had chosen a very conservative formation for a home game containing no width, as neither Aiden McGeady nor James McClean started the game.

It meant full-backs Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady had to do a trojan amount of work against a Georgian side that was game and up for a battle.

O'Neill's decision to take off skipper Keane at half-time was reignite the debate over the veteran goal scoring great's future at international level, with Shane Long's second half showing offering Ireland a little more energy up front.

The manager may also have to consider a more bold attacking selection when what may now be the crucial away game against Poland rolls around next month.

McClean didn't get on until the 74th minute and promptly picked up a yellow card that will keep him out of the Germany match next month - a fate that also landed on midfielder Glenn Whelan and for the worst reason of all, dissent.

While this performance was good enough to get the win over Georgia, any repeat against Germany on October 8 would result in the same sort of 6-1 hammering Giovanni Trapattoni's team took in the Aviva at few years ago.

Germany will eat Ireland alive if they play in this disjointed manner in a month's time. There is much work to be done, by the players and the management team, before anyone can start thinking of dusting down that old school French phrase book.

One disappointment on a massive night for Irish soccer was the lowly attendance at the Aviva Stadium, with far too many empty seats on show for a game of this significance.

We need this stadium to be packed to the rafters and rocking for the visit of Germany next month and while a win in that game is highly unlikely, an Irish win in Poland could, remarkably, open the door to automatic qualification for Euro 2016.

The impossible dream suddenly seems very possible all over again.