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Ireland’s defeat in Scotland tells you that international football is a cruel

Paul McGrath’s verdict on Ireland’s defeat in Glasdow

Scott McTominay heads towards the Ireland goal© PA

Paul McGrathSunday World

I was thrilled with by so much of Ireland’s performance in Scotland, but the result tells you that international football is a cruel place sometimes.

Ireland didn’t deserve to lose that match in Hampden Park last night, but two simple errors meant we did.

After a half of hard work and graft that saw Ireland lead the game, Matt Doherty stuck out a lazy leg at a Scottish opponent, and two seconds later, the ball was in our net.

Eight minutes before the end, an Irish player handles a ball coming in from a corner, having been pushed into the contact with the ball by a colleague. And that was that. Now we face a batle with Armenia to stay in Group B of the Nations League.

Frankly a table that shows Scotland with 12 points in this group, and us with four, does not make pretty reading. Rem ember this was Scotland, a team that won’t be going to the World Cup. This was not one of the football elite.

It’s all very well to talk about progress and Stephen has capped lots of players and they are growing all the time. But at some point the growing has to stop and we have to start winning matches.

Even if we do get three points on Tuesday, it will be just two wins out of six games in this Nations League. That’s not god enough in a group where we are playing our peers not the top teams.

We are trying so hard, you couldn’t fault the effort. But we lack that kiler instinct in attack, the chances missed in the second half by Troy Parrott and Chiedozie Ogbene simply have to be taken in international football.

What more can Stephen do, not a lot, I suspect, until his players start playing regularly with their clubs. I’m a great admirer of Matt Doherty, but he was visibly tiring from about ten minutes into the second half because he is not match-fit from his time at Spurs.

And it was his dangling leg challenge that allowed Scotland in for their equaliser. Same too with Michael Obafemi, once he made that great run to set up Parrott’s chance, his legs were gone, he’s not playing at Swansea.

Stephen will have to make a few changes for Tuesday. I think Seamus Coleman will start, perhaps Robbie Brady too and though our midfield was strong last night, perhaps the fresh legs of Jeff Hendrick should be called on.

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