Player ratings: Shane Duffy the star as Ireland see off Switzerland 1-0
If you expected fireworks, you deserve everything you get.
It was a dull enough affair at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night as Ireland saw off a meek Switzerland challenge.
A second minute Ciaran Clark goal did the damage and, although it wasn't a riveting fixture, it was a win and there were 17 Irish men to run the rule over.
Darren Randolph 7
Didn't have much to do. Dealt with a header straight at him, adjusted his body to deal with a long, deflected shot and caught a deep, whipping second half free kick really well. No assist for Long though. Disappointing.
Seamus Coleman 9
Always makes the right decision. Always. Lovely measured left-footed cross for a big Shane Long chance in the first period. You'd nearly think he'd get fed up at this stage picking up some of the slack for the rest of the team but he's there time after time with game-saving tackles, cool interceptions and working the ball out from the back like one of the best full backs in the world.
Shane Duffy 9
Rose like a
salmon 6 foot 4, 13 stone no-nonsense centre half to put one on a plate for Ciaran Clark for his goal. The Blackburn star was ruthlessly commanding throughout and pulled his team mates out of a number of holes with some superb last-ditch interventions. He came into a defence that included four of Ireland's five starters in the play-offs and he was the one roaring out instructions and demanding them to follow his orders. Tall, strong, aggressive, loud. Talented. And now he's confident. This game may have just booked the Derry man's flight to France.
Ciaran Clark 9
Bagged a goal for himself in the second minute. Ruthless as usual patrolling the backline and he showed a bit of unbelievable anticipation to cut out a big Swiss chance for Embolo in the second half when shifted across last-ditch and let the opposition attacker have all of his typical no-holds-barred aggression.
Robbie Brady 8
The signs were encouraging when he beat the first defender with his first corner. Then, with his second, he whipped in a glorious ball for Duffy to nod on to Clark for the opener. Had the toughest task trying to keep an eye on the rampant Breel Embolo for most of the night and it caught him twice when he conceded a corner needlessly and actually crossed another in for the Swiss. But those are only just flaws of his determination to play football and keep possession. Defensively, you can see his full season at left back with Norwich is standing to him to no end and he was strong and sharp to stop wingers getting in behind him. A couple of one-twos were cut out brilliantly by him.
Alan Judge 5
Dished out two absolutely mincing challenges, one of which was unfairly punished. Headed narrowly wide from a corner but it was a quiet night for the debutant who never saw much of the ball and certainly not in advanced positions where he has been so deadly for Brentford.
David Meyler 5
One crunching tackle early on that sent out a bold and confusing message that Ireland and Switzerland was not one for the neutral - not this time anyway. Tracked back well, especially when the full backs were stretched. Dodgy pass in-field that carved a Swiss chance and caught out in the middle too. Took off after an hour.
Stephen Quinn 6
Plenty of good work, moves his body well, sees a neat pass, draws challenges. Tidy. Not extraordinary.
Aiden McGeady 5
Much the same, really. Looked a little sharper - you can tell he's playing more regularly - and he was quick to a few balls but not much by way of effect going forward. Drilled a good near-post corner in that was cleared off the line in the first period. Didn't exactly grab his opportunity though with the hour he was given.
Kevin Doyle 5
Flicked a clever effort with his heel from McGeady's corner early on and was unlucky to see it cleared off the line. Threw himself around in the air like a raging bloodhound trying to prize a cat from a tree. Went for everything aggressively and it proved his undoing in the end as he took a real bad knock in the leg after winning a full-blooded challenge and had to be withdrawn after just 22 minutes of game time with a deep gash to his leg and he was taken to hospital.
Hopefully, this is not the end of Kevin Doyle's international career. 62-cap Kevin Doyle deserves a much greater send-off than that. God knows the man has earned it.
Shane Long 6
Hit the underside of the crossbar with a header in the first half. Not a lot of possession coming from out the field though and the Southampton striker was starved up top. Always sniffing around, always looking to get in behind and his aerial game was on point too. Fouled an awful lot.
Daryl Murphy 5
Looked snappier across the ground than he did at the end of last year. Barged a defender to the turf with one altercation and sat up a teasing effort for Long that was just agonisingly over-hit. Broke down the right, cut inside well in the second period and blazed hopelessly wide. Was only given 55 minutes in all.
Eunan O'Kane 7
Proved with 30 minutes that he's a good player and that he deserved to make his debut. The Bournemouth man got on the ball, he shifted his feet really well and he wasn't just tidying up, he was trying to make things happen. Even nutmegged Embolo at the edge of his box and broke forward late on only to curl wide with a decent effort. Should be given a start on Tuesday.
James McCarthy 7
Injected a lot more zip when he came on after an hour. Stroked the ball around purposefully, brought his team to a higher line and just seemed a lot more present defensively in the middle.
Jonathon Hayes 5
Got 30 minutes to show what he could do. Certainly doesn't lack work-rate or bite and he curled two balls into the area to no avail.
James McClean 7
Could you hazard a guess that he lifted the crowd? Deployed up front for Shane Long in the last 10 minutes and, as you can imagine, he was game as ever. Made intelligent runs and got the side in behind more than they did all evening. It was a lively intervention in an otherwise subdued night.
Wes Hoolahan 6
Everything he does is just glorious. 10 minutes of neat touches and adjusting his body to perfection. 10 minutes we're all better off for.
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