John Egan: Irish players are ready to bounce back from latest setback

Stephen Kenny's side face Scotland on Saturday after two disappointing defeats in the Nations League
John Egan: Irish players are ready to bounce back from latest setback

Soccer player John Egan with Ciara, Cormac and Aoife Bohan at the Bishopstown GAA Healthy Club launch. Picture: Larry Cummins. 

AFTER back-to-back losses in the Nations League, the Republic of Ireland move on to tomorrow’s meeting with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium desperate for a result.

Stephen Kenny’s side will be looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in Dublin. This was a stinging result as it came just four days after Armenia got the better of them in Eastern Europe.

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny dejected after the Ukraine game. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny dejected after the Ukraine game. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ireland started Wednesday’s game very strong and they should have scored inside two minutes, but a shot from Jason Knight was calmly caught by the Ukrainian goalkeeper.

Ireland caused a number of problems for the visitors, but they fell short each time they got into a good position.

They conceded in the first minute of the second half; an in swinging free-kick from Viktor Tsygankov floated through the area and dropped into the net.

A close-range header from Shane Duffy was Ireland’s moment to equalise. Instead of bringing the stadium to its feet, the ball smacked off the crossbar and Ireland seemed to fade after that.

Apart from a long-range shot from Jeff Hendrick, which was routinely blocked by the Ukrainian defence, the team were very meek in responding to Ukraine’s goal.

The only solace from Wednesday night was the performance of substitute Michael Obafemi. The striker, who was brought on midway through the second half, charged down every ball and ran endlessly at the opposition back-line.

His efforts were in vain as Ukraine comfortably held on to get an emotional win in front of their 3,500 supporters.

Despite the lacklustre end to the game, a defiant John Egan wants the team to issue a response against Scotland tomorrow.

That’s football. You get knocked back and it’s all about how you respond. We’ve a dressing-room in there that wants to bounce back and put it right on Saturday.”

The defender, who was came off injured midway through the second half, gave an optimistic assessment of the result.

“In my opinion, we started and ended the game really well. Maybe in between, it was an even game. They had a couple of breaks and we had some great opportunities to hurt them. It was another tight game and one goal wins it. Unfortunately, we’re on the end of a bad result.”

Ireland’s Jason Knight reacts to a missed chance against Ukraine. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland’s Jason Knight reacts to a missed chance against Ukraine. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

One thing is clear to Egan, there is no questioning the effort made by the Ireland squad.

“The players always give 100% and that’s the least you can expect when you put on an Ireland jersey. I think everybody has given everything, we wanted to win but came out on the wrong end of a tight game,” he said.

They will be looking for retribution against a Scottish team that kicked off their Nations League campaign with a 2-0 victory over Armenia.

Steve Clarke’s side are experts at using the competition to build momentum for major international tournaments.

In 2018, Scotland topped their Nations League group and this secured them a play-off spot for Euro 2020. They then beat Israel and Serbia on penalties to qualify for their first major tournament in 24 years.

The feeling of goodwill from their performances at Euro 2020 carried into their World Cup qualifiers last autumn. Scotland finished second in their group to earn a play-off semi-final which they lost 3-1 to Ukraine in Glasgow.

QUALITY

Scotland’s form is a testament to a well-organised team that has the right amount of quality in each position.

They play a 3-4-3 formation with Andy Robertson and Anthony Ralston operating as full-backs. Their midfield is driven by John McGinn and Callum McGregor, two experienced carriers of the ball. Celtic graduates Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Christie are the legs in their forward line. They support Ché Adams who acts as a traditional number nine.

This team is known for frustrating big opponents and not adhering to a script. At Euro 2020, against England at Wembley, Scotland drew 0-0 with their old enemy. They also beat Austria and Denmark in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

The two teams last met in the qualifiers for the 2016 European Championships. Scotland won the first game through a close-range shot from Shaun Maloney at Celtic Park. Their next meeting ended with a John O’Shea own goal cancelling out a tap-in from Jonathon Walters.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more