The Road To Russia 2018: Who Are Ireland’s Star Performers?
August 29, 2017 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

The Republic of Ireland team have passed the halfway point in their World Cup qualifying campaign and as things currently stand in Group D, Martin and Roy’s Boys are level on points with Serbia at the top, and are only two goals behind them on goal difference. Ireland have a four point cushion over Wales and Austria who lie in third and fourth respectively and maybe, just maybe we, as a nation, can start getting excited about a trip to Moscow next summer.

However, before we start loading up the van with Joxer and the lads, there are still four games left to play, two at home and two away. Out of these four remaining games, one is against group leaders Serbia in Dublin on September 5th, followed by a trip to Cardiff to take on Wales on October 9th. The other two games, which Ireland are expected to win, are against the minnows of the group, Georgia and Moldova.

Ireland are currently odds on to make it to their first World Cup since 2002 and this is due to the fact that a few Irish players have put in some very important performances for their country. So with that, we at The Sharpe have taken a look who the star performers have been so far and how they can help us to reach the next stage of our World Cup campaign.

James McClean

Kind of an obvious one to start off with, McClean didn’t have his best game in the last match against Austria, but we will let him away with it, due to the incredible influence he has had over the team in the previous qualifying matches. McClean is Ireland’s top scorer in this campaign with three goals. With his goal away to Austria last November being the catalyst for the optimism that has been around the team ever since.

james_mcclean

Also popping up with two vital goals away to Moldova last October, McClean played against Wales after suffering the loss of his friend and former Derry City teammate Ryan McBride, and showed incredible poise and professionalism in playing so soon after the Derry mans sudden death. McClean will be a crucial player in Ireland’s attempts to secure a place at Russia 2018, and if he can rediscover some of the form he showed in late 2016, then we will be in with a big chance of going all the way.

Wes Hoolahan

What can I say about Eamon Dunphy’s self proclaimed love child that hasn’t already been said. Should Wes be starting every match for Ireland? Yes. Why are we only realising now, that Wes at the age of 35 is one of the best creative Irish players to come along in a generation? Well because the way we play isn’t suited to a player like Hoolahan, we’re more of a hoof it up to the big man and hopefully we’ll nick a goal kind of team. Well hoofing it up the field is all well and good, but why not play a bit of football for once, and with a player like Wes we can certainly do just that.

wes_hoolahan

In Ireland’s last three big victories against teams ranked higher than us, those being Germany, Italy and Austria, we won all games by one goal to nil. Which man started all those games, when he doesn’t usually start at all, you may ask? Well that would be aul’ Wes Hoolahan, with Wes being crucial to two of those three goals scored. Wes is an important player as he showed against Austria when he came on for the final 20 minutes in Dublin, and improved the team so much that they finally had their first shot on target in the whole game. If Hoolahan is available to play in any of the four qualifying games, then he has to play, simple as that.

Jon Walters

OK cards on the table, this pick may have a lot to do with what Walters done in the second half against the Austrians last time out. Walters was kicked and elbowed all game long by the Austrian centre halves, but he kept going and didn’t give up. It was down to this grit and determination that he was able to fire in the greatest volley for Ireland since Ray Houghton against the Italians in Giants Stadium in 1994.

jonathan_walters

OK I  might be getting a bit ahead of myself there, but still, Walters performance against the Austrians highlighted why he is still such a crucial player for Ireland, and on his day he can go toe to toe with any centre half and make an impact. With Shane Long now back to full fitness for the final few rounds of qualifying games, the return of the Long/Walters partnership up front, could very well be the catalyst for qualification.

Seamus Coleman

Before his devastating leg break against Wales in March, Seamus Coleman had shown himself to be up there with great Ireland captains of the past. This is all down to the way he carries himself on and off the pitch, as he shows amazing grace in his dealings with the media. But behind that you can see a determination to make every player involved in the team committed to the cause as much as he is. Coleman has helped martial the new centre back partnership of Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy, which has led to Ireland conceding the least amount of goals in Group D so far. Another factor in Coleman’s game is his marauding runs forward, which proved crucial in the game against Georgia in October with Coleman popping up with the only goal of the game.

seamus_coleman

Coleman may very well miss the rest of the qualifying campaign, however, his influence is still being felt around the squad as he joined up with the lads in the lead up to the Austria game. Coleman looks to be on the road to recovery and he may even play a part in one of the final group games or even in a play-off. If we are to qualify for Russia 2018 than Seamus Coleman will be one of the first names on the plane to Russia if we qualify.

An Honourable Mention

So these are the four men, who we here at The Sharpe think have been Ireland’s star men so far in this World Cup qualifying campaign. One honourable mention has to go towards the man who made a critical save against the Austrians in the Aviva, Darren Randolph, who has since left West Ham after the arrival of Joe Hart and had moved down a division joining Middlesbrough.

Randolph has repeatedly turned in big game performances for the Irish team and pulled off some top class saves when called upon. With four games left in Group D and the possibility of a play-off or even better a chance at topping the group, is there any other player who you think will make an impact for Ireland as we try and secure our spot at Russia 2018? Let us know in the comments below. Check out our Facebook page to find out how you can win 2 premium tickets to Ireland’s next home game against Serbia on Tuesday, September 5th at the Aviva!

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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The Road To Russia 2018: Who Are Ireland’s Star Performers?
August 29, 2017 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

The Republic of Ireland team have passed the halfway point in their World Cup qualifying campaign and as things currently stand in Group D, Martin and Roy’s Boys are level on points with Serbia at the top, and are only two goals behind them on goal difference. Ireland have a four point cushion over Wales and Austria who lie in third and fourth respectively and maybe, just maybe we, as a nation, can start getting excited about a trip to Moscow next summer.

However, before we start loading up the van with Joxer and the lads, there are still four games left to play, two at home and two away. Out of these four remaining games, one is against group leaders Serbia in Dublin on September 5th, followed by a trip to Cardiff to take on Wales on October 9th. The other two games, which Ireland are expected to win, are against the minnows of the group, Georgia and Moldova.

Ireland are currently odds on to make it to their first World Cup since 2002 and this is due to the fact that a few Irish players have put in some very important performances for their country. So with that, we at The Sharpe have taken a look who the star performers have been so far and how they can help us to reach the next stage of our World Cup campaign.

James McClean

Kind of an obvious one to start off with, McClean didn’t have his best game in the last match against Austria, but we will let him away with it, due to the incredible influence he has had over the team in the previous qualifying matches. McClean is Ireland’s top scorer in this campaign with three goals. With his goal away to Austria last November being the catalyst for the optimism that has been around the team ever since.

james_mcclean

Also popping up with two vital goals away to Moldova last October, McClean played against Wales after suffering the loss of his friend and former Derry City teammate Ryan McBride, and showed incredible poise and professionalism in playing so soon after the Derry mans sudden death. McClean will be a crucial player in Ireland’s attempts to secure a place at Russia 2018, and if he can rediscover some of the form he showed in late 2016, then we will be in with a big chance of going all the way.

Wes Hoolahan

What can I say about Eamon Dunphy’s self proclaimed love child that hasn’t already been said. Should Wes be starting every match for Ireland? Yes. Why are we only realising now, that Wes at the age of 35 is one of the best creative Irish players to come along in a generation? Well because the way we play isn’t suited to a player like Hoolahan, we’re more of a hoof it up to the big man and hopefully we’ll nick a goal kind of team. Well hoofing it up the field is all well and good, but why not play a bit of football for once, and with a player like Wes we can certainly do just that.

wes_hoolahan

In Ireland’s last three big victories against teams ranked higher than us, those being Germany, Italy and Austria, we won all games by one goal to nil. Which man started all those games, when he doesn’t usually start at all, you may ask? Well that would be aul’ Wes Hoolahan, with Wes being crucial to two of those three goals scored. Wes is an important player as he showed against Austria when he came on for the final 20 minutes in Dublin, and improved the team so much that they finally had their first shot on target in the whole game. If Hoolahan is available to play in any of the four qualifying games, then he has to play, simple as that.

Jon Walters

OK cards on the table, this pick may have a lot to do with what Walters done in the second half against the Austrians last time out. Walters was kicked and elbowed all game long by the Austrian centre halves, but he kept going and didn’t give up. It was down to this grit and determination that he was able to fire in the greatest volley for Ireland since Ray Houghton against the Italians in Giants Stadium in 1994.

jonathan_walters

OK I  might be getting a bit ahead of myself there, but still, Walters performance against the Austrians highlighted why he is still such a crucial player for Ireland, and on his day he can go toe to toe with any centre half and make an impact. With Shane Long now back to full fitness for the final few rounds of qualifying games, the return of the Long/Walters partnership up front, could very well be the catalyst for qualification.

Seamus Coleman

Before his devastating leg break against Wales in March, Seamus Coleman had shown himself to be up there with great Ireland captains of the past. This is all down to the way he carries himself on and off the pitch, as he shows amazing grace in his dealings with the media. But behind that you can see a determination to make every player involved in the team committed to the cause as much as he is. Coleman has helped martial the new centre back partnership of Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy, which has led to Ireland conceding the least amount of goals in Group D so far. Another factor in Coleman’s game is his marauding runs forward, which proved crucial in the game against Georgia in October with Coleman popping up with the only goal of the game.

seamus_coleman

Coleman may very well miss the rest of the qualifying campaign, however, his influence is still being felt around the squad as he joined up with the lads in the lead up to the Austria game. Coleman looks to be on the road to recovery and he may even play a part in one of the final group games or even in a play-off. If we are to qualify for Russia 2018 than Seamus Coleman will be one of the first names on the plane to Russia if we qualify.

An Honourable Mention

So these are the four men, who we here at The Sharpe think have been Ireland’s star men so far in this World Cup qualifying campaign. One honourable mention has to go towards the man who made a critical save against the Austrians in the Aviva, Darren Randolph, who has since left West Ham after the arrival of Joe Hart and had moved down a division joining Middlesbrough.

Randolph has repeatedly turned in big game performances for the Irish team and pulled off some top class saves when called upon. With four games left in Group D and the possibility of a play-off or even better a chance at topping the group, is there any other player who you think will make an impact for Ireland as we try and secure our spot at Russia 2018? Let us know in the comments below. Check out our Facebook page to find out how you can win 2 premium tickets to Ireland’s next home game against Serbia on Tuesday, September 5th at the Aviva!

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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