Player Ratings: Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Georgia

Wed, Mar 27 2019

Glenn Whelan celebrates victory with James McClean and goalscorer Conor Hourihane. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Dave Donnelly reports from the Aviva Stadium

It was a much-improved performance from Mick McCarthy's side as he led an Irish team out in Dublin for the first time in 17 years. Following Saturday's frustrating and confounding display in Gibraltar, the Boys in Green controlled the game from the first minute, with Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick, two players sidelined by Martin O'Neill, were particularly impressive.

Darren Randolph: 7

Terrific save in first-half injury time to deny Gvilia from close range – showing great reflexes to bat the header away from goal and got a deserved bit of luck as Otar Kiteishvili couldn’t control the loose ball. One nervy moment in the second half as he misjudged a header and conceded a needless corner, but a calm presence as ever on his back four, who grow an inch with him behind them.

Seamus Coleman: 6

The captain offered more of an attacking dimension than he did four days ago as he benefited from Robbie Brady’s eagerness to cut inside and leave room on the overlap. Gave the ball away carelessly at times, which didn’t help in the nervy final moments, but could have been celebrating his second international goal had Jeff Hendrick not finished instead from an offside position.

Shane Duffy: 7

It was a night made for the big man from Derry as he ate up a succession of aimless long balls in the direction of Georgia’s less than imposing front men. Put his body on the line when it mattered, got some vital touches (usually with his head) and played a key role in the wall to block Giorgi Loria’s view for Conor Hourihane’s spectacular free kick. The only surprise is he didn’t head any tennis balls.

Richard Keogh: 7

The less conspicuous of Ireland’s two centre-halves but showed a neat turn of pace to retrieve a couple of loose balls and showed composure to take the ball out of defence and find the feet of a midfielder rather than going direct. The Derby County continues to grow in stature in his 30s.

Enda Stevens: 7

Consistently a threat down the left and his ball for Hendrick’s disallowed goal was perfect but will rue missing a great opening with his right foot 20 minutes from time. After a disappointing outing in Gibraltar, will be hugely heartened by his best display yet in green, and the left-back shirt looks his to lose following Stephen Ward’s retirement.

Glenn Whelan: 9

A colossus. The Clondalkin man looked like a man with a point to prove after effectively being retired by Martin O’Neill and justified in spades Mick McCarthy’s decision to recall him. Won’t be able to play two games in a week very often but McCarthy chose the right game to save him for, as his defensive discipline, calmness and quality on the ball allowed Jeff Hendrick and Conor Hourihane to have a great impact on the game.

Jeff Hendrick: 8

There have been question marks over the former St Kevin’s Boys man’s form, both for club and country, but the Dubliner delivered a performance reminiscent of those he put in during Euro 2016, when he looked the future of the Ireland midfield. Constantly pressed the Georgian defensive players and won the ball high up the pitch, though will be disappointed to spurn a chance to double the advantage in the second hand with a poor lay-off to Hourihane.

Conor Hourihane: 8

Great break forward in the opening minutes following Hendrick’s tackle and let Robbie Brady pull the defender away to open up the space for a shot, but perhaps should have done better with his effort. There was no doubting the quality of his set-piece delivery, however, and he left Loria with no chance when given a chance to strike before half time. Will be difficult to displace on this form.

Robbie Brady: 5

It hasn’t quite happened for the Burnley man in the three years since his standout performances at Euro 2016, and injury hasn’t helped, and he still looks some way from his best. Showed glimpses of the passing ability nobody else in the Irish set-up possesses in the lead-up to Hendrick’s disallowed goal with an inch-perfect pass to pick out Stevens.

James McClean: 6

A typically industrious and, perhaps untypically, disciplined performance from the Stoke City winger, who might fear for his place were Callum O’Dowda and Ronan Curtis both fit. Did a diligent defensive job on Otar Kiteishvili but looks too eager to please and frustrated as he wasted some good attacking positions with ill-advised shots.

David McGoldrick: 9

The Sheffield United striker set up Hendrick’s goal in Gibraltar with some strong forward play, and his hold-up work was particularly impressive as he proved stubbornly difficult to part from the ball, and his willingness to come deep created space for Hendrick, Brady and McClean to get on the ball in advanced areas. Left to a standing ovation and deserved every last second.

Aiden O’Brien: 6

Introduced on the wing in place of Brady before moving centrally following McGoldrick’s departure and worked hard, but had few chances to get on the ball in threatening areas, though he did take the pressure of the defence with some good possession play.

Matt Doherty: 6

Only got nine minutes to impress after losing his place following Saturday’s debacle, but linked up well with Coleman in his short time on the right flank and has at least proven he’s a reliable option to run at tired defences.