Ireland's Pros and Cons: Shane Duffy shines but it's a mixed bag for the debutants

We look at the pros and cons from Ireland's win over Switzerland

BY Raf Diallo 21:59 Friday 25 March 2016, 21:59 25 Mar 2016

Ireland's Shane Duffy and Haris Seferovic of Switzerland ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Given the nature of the game, Ireland can be relatively satisfied with tonight's 1-0 friendly win over Switzerland.

As the first of the set of friendlies ahead of Euro 2016, Martin O'Neill mixed experimentation in the shape of new faces with some of the regular faces.

But what did we learn from the match?

  The Pros

Ireland pressed well in the first half and there was a nice tempo to the early approach, although O'Neill's side did drop off more and more as the match wore on.

The delivery from set-pieces and crosses resulted in the majority of chances created, including the opening goal and the Shane Long header which came back off the crossbar.

Another positive was the centre-back partnership of the impressive Shane Duffy and goalscorer Ciaran Clark who, a few jittery moments aside, were quite solid in dealing with the threat posed by the Swiss forwards. 

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph was also composed between the sticks as he looks likely to cement the No 1 spot he took hold at the end of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Ireland's Eunan O'Kane reacts to missing a shot ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The Cons

Robbie Brady can put a shift in at left-back but as a natural winger, he can be caught out positionally when fielded further back. Switzerland did attempt to probe down the side with diagonal balls over the Norwich player's head and into the space behind him. However, for the most part, he was not tested as much as he could have been.

While Kevin Doyle was not going to be a starter this summer in the event he made the squad, his injury after a collision was unfortunate and his distraught reaction as he lay on the turf told a tale about his worries about making it onto the plane for France.



The new(er) faces

Martin O'Neill had promised to include one or two new faces in his starting team and was true to his word.

Many eyes were on Brentford's Alan Judge as he made his debut after a season which has seen the midfielder plunder 14 goals and 10 assists.

But disappointingly he saw little of the ball in the first half, bar one semi-dangerous cross from the right flank shortly after Clark's opening goal. 



At the back, Shane Duffy, who got his opportunity to start, was solid alongside Ciaran Clark on his second cap, setting up his centre-back partner's third minute goal and performing admirably with what Switzerland threw at him.

Like Judge, Aberdeen's Johnny Hayes has also been impressing at club level and he came on as part of a triple substitution on the hour mark but his arrival coincided with a time when Ireland were seeing less of the ball, thus his impact was minimal.

Bournemouth midfielder Eunan O'Kane also saw action in the second half as a sub but fired a good chance wide in the final minutes.

The Swiss threat this summer

While they were threatening on the break in the first half, they created few clear-cut chances aside from a Haris Seferovic header which flicked just wide and a free header for right-back Michael Lang which nestled into Darren Randolph's arms.

But their performance has to be taken in context with the team they fielded. Star man Xherdan Shaqiri was absent and Juventus right wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner was not involved either.

Both of those players are key for them in an attacking sense down the flanks. But in terms of this summer, their group - hosts France aside - is enticing as they face Romania and debutants Albania and they should have enough but in terms of experience and talent to take second place.


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