Republic of Ireland have to settle for a point in Georgia

There is something radically wrong with a team full of professional footballers who are afraid of the ball.

We saw it in Tbilisi.

But the Serbia I saw in Belgrade was not a team to fear.

Georgia were having the better of the play after the restart but slowly but surely, Ireland began to switch the momentum and from the hour mark, O'Neill's men could count themselves as the better team.

The result leaves Ireland needing a win over Serbia in the Aviva next week. They're a lot better than what people think when you look at their results through the group.

Shane Duffy scored a fourth-minute header to give Ireland the lead at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi, but that was as good as it got for the team's travelling supporters, who watched as Georgia were allowed to dominate proceedings.

Robbie Brady was a lost soul, mooching around the pitch never really knowing where he was supposed to be or what he was supposed to be doing.

"It's something that's a challenge for me and personally I was really disappointed with the first and second half".

But O'Neill's players clearly knew what was coming next and felt comfortable facing away from the ball for a kick-out.

And, despite how poor the Irish were, they almost pulled off the impossible. If long ball is to be the way, I've no problem with that but do it properly. They won, so the pressure is on us - but it probably would have been the same.

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O'Neill spoke beforehand about the need for Ireland to keep possession, but acknowledged afterwards: We didn't do that well enough.

The substitute Aiden McGeady sensed another chance of glory when he broke into space down the right with 18 minutes remaining, but his ambitious long-range strike was blocked at source by the Georgia captain, Guram Kashia.

McGeady was sent on to attack, obeyed his instincts and got on the ball.

Ireland led after four minutes as the home side's protests over a stray elbow from Ciaran Clark catching Makaridze fell on deaf ears.

But sitting on the bench was a man who does that in his sleep while McGeady is subject to fitful levels of confidence and only very rare bursts of class at global level. But he has the ability, as he showed three years ago, to get it under control and score.

Walters also hit a rising drive that stung the palms of Makaridze, but Ireland's push for a late victor lacked conviction and O'Neill will hope his side are in better form in Tuesday's crunch match at Aviva Stadium.

Hoolahan has only started two competitive games since the Euros, yet no Irish player has produced more assists in this qualifying campaign than the ex-Shelbourne player.

O'Neill did rather better than that at the Euros last summer and if McGeady had taken his chance on Saturday night, or James McLean and Long theirs, his pragmatism would no doubt have earned at least a passing pat on the head.

It is a feature of Ireland's game that has become a unsafe pattern which would have resulted in a loss against some of the bigger teams in the group.


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