For the Republic of Ireland, it was a win in Wales manufactured by a Derry trio. Martin O’Neill’s men earned ...Thu, Oct 12 2017
It was a weekend that for this reporter began in Bristol and after a famous win in Cardiff may now ...Wed, Oct 11 2017
Darren Randolph: 7
The West Ham United goalkeeper justified Martin O'Neill's faith in him after a shaky first half against Uruguay last week raised the prospect of Keiren Westwood replacing him between the sticks. Randolph was secure under the high ball and blameless for Martin Hinteregger's superbly-struck opener, while a fantastic reaction save to deny Florian Grillitsch with the scores 1-0 almost certainly spared Ireland a costly defeat.
Cyrus Christie: 4
Christie has been asked to fill considerable shoes with Seamus Coleman unlikely to feature again in this campaign after breaking his leg, and his first competitive game since was a mixed affair. Christie's pace and attacking prowess were evident at times, while one excellent free kick in the second half could have yielded a goal for the recently-arrived Daryl Murphy, but he was booked for a studs-up challenge early on and made some basic errors late on as he visibly tired.
Shane Duffy: 3
The Derryman missed the last few weeks of Brighton & Hove Albion's promotion run-in so was blameless when they blew a seven-point lead over Newcastle to finish second, but his lack of football was noticeable in all three international games and he arguably saved his most error-strewn performance for last. Can't be held responsible for Austria's goal but was passing radar was way-off all night as countless moves broke down before they'd started, and what a late goal was correctly ruled out as he needlessly raised his arms in challenging Stefan Lainer.
Kevin Long: 6
Martin O'Neill's big pre-match gamble largely paid off as Long looked like the seasoned international among Ireland's back four, despite this being his first competitive international. Long got his blocks in, snuffed out danger and generally look unfussed in an impressive competitive debut for the former Cork City man, who has charted a meteoric rise since making his first Premier League start for Burnley just over a month ago.
Stephen Ward: 5
Not one of the full-back's better days in a green shirt as he rarely seemed to be on the same page as the winger in from of him, James McClean, while he was lucky Austria didn't punish him more severely when he was dispossed in midfield and the visitors broke down his wing. He lost the goalscorer Hintegger for his first-half strike and was hooked before the hour mark as Martin O'Neill brought on Daryl Murphy in an effort to chase the game.
Glenn Whelan: 7
Ireland's best performer on an evening of slim pickings. The Stoke City man isn't the all-action attacking midfielder that fans want to see but his positional sense and awareness of what's around him is second to none. With the visitors set up to catch Ireland with pace on the counter-attack, Whelan demonstrated a sixth sense to spot danger and, despite his own lack of pace, was invariably the first man on the scene in a green shirt to cut out the danger.
Harry Arter: 5
A square peg in a round hole, the Bournemouth man was stationed alongside Whelan in a deep midfield role and charged with providing energy and zip to the midfield. The conservative choice with Wes Hoolahan sitting on the bench, Arter was anything but strong and stable as he was frequently dragged out of position by simple two and three-man passing movements, while he offered little going forward.
Jeff Hendrick: 3
Hendrick was arguably Ireland's star performer at the Euros in France last summer, when it appeared he had finally found the consistency to match his undoubted talent, but his standard has dropped in this campaign and this was his poorest showing to date. Wasn't helped by O'Neill's decision to post him in an unfamiliar advanced midfield role, the Burnley man looked all at sea positionally and watched the game pass him by.
Robbie Brady: 3
The hero of Lille has struggled for consistent gametime since becoming Burnley's record signing when he joined from Norwich City in January, and he took the same indifferent form into the international window, where he looked a pale imitation of the player who looked primed to become the side's fulcrum for years to come. Brady's most eye-catching contribution was to be booked for a rash tackle in the first half, and was shuttled around the second line of attack to little effect.
James McClean: 4
McClean channel his winning goal in Vienna with a near-identical strike against Uruguay last week but he rarely looked like threatening the Austrian goal on Sunday. The strange passiveness of Ireland's performance was best summed up in the Derryman, who put in one thunderous challenge late in the first half but otherwise offered little of the blood-and-thunder that characterises his game. A bad miss ten minutes from time with the goal gaping was as close as he got to affecting the tie.
Jon Walters: 6
The Stoke City striker can never be accused of shirking responsibility and performed a thankless task for Martin O'Neill as he played the lone frontman in Shane Long's absence. The Wirral man's energy resources appear to defy logic as he raced past Aleksandar Dragovic five minutes from time and powered a first-time drive into the corner of Heinz Lindner's goal. It was a fine finish, showing a couple of poor attempts earlier in the game hadn't affected his confidence.
Daryl Murphy (for Stephen Ward, 56 minutes): 6
Didn't have the same impact he did in setting up McClean's victory-sealing goal against Uruguay, but he's a more natural targetman than Walters and he performed his basic duties well, while on another day the ball would have bounced more favourably to present him with a goalscoring chance or two.
Wes Hoolahan (for Harry Arter, 71 mins): 6
The biggest cheer of the night went on when the Norwich City maestro was finally introduced with a little under 20 minutes remaining, and how Ireland's needed his composure on the ball and ability to pick out a pass. Had an immediate impact when he came on as he swung in a cross Lainer nearly steered into his own net and generally increased the tempo of Ireland's lumbering attack.
Aiden McGeady (for Glenn Whelan, 77 mins): 6
The Everton winger has just come off his best season in English football on loan at Preston North End, and games like this against a nervous defence are perfect for the man whose raw talent is still unmatched by anybody in the squad. Showed for the ball immediately upon his introduction and sought to pick holes to some effect.