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19th Nov 2018

Shock and confusion follows “official” Man of the Match in latest Irish stalemate

Say what??

Darragh Murphy

Another drab performance. Another goalless draw. Another frustrating evening to be an Irish fan.

Not since 1996 have the Republic of Ireland gone four games without scoring but Monday night’s Uefa Nations League stalemate with Denmark cemented this Irish team as the most boring to watch in years.

Having already been relegated League C of the Nations League, some optimistic supporters might have had their fingers crossed for a scenario in which Martin O’Neill threw caution to the wind to provide some entertainment value, at the very least.

What we got instead was an uneventful encounter in which Ireland defended valiantly, somehow keeping a clean sheet in the face of 25 Danish attempts, but failed to get anything going in the way of offence, managing no shots on target.

The Irish midfield was overrun, Aiden O’Brien was isolated throughout and the only real positives to take away from the trip to Aarhus was the confirmation that Michael Obafemi will represent Ireland internationally and the reminder that O’Neill’s centre-halves are brilliant at defending desperately.

Our player ratings saw no fewer six Irish starters receive 4/10 and one of those players, Jeff Hendrick, continued his recent streak of struggles in the green jersey.

That made it all the more shocking to see Hendrick rewarded with Ireland’s official Man of the Match award, with the fan reaction speaking volumes about the decision.

While captain Seamus Coleman claimed after the match that he saw some positives in the willingness of Hendrick to get on the ball, Sky Sports pundit Phil Babb disagreed.

Former Irish international, Babb said: “I didn’t see it how Seamus saw it. He wears the skipper’s armband and he has to toe the party line. I don’t think they got on the ball enough and I don’t think Jeff Hendrick got on the ball enough or created enough chances.”

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