Republic of Ireland held by Georgia

Hart’s arrival at West Ham this summer prompted Randolph to move
Hart’s arrival at West Ham this summer prompted Randolph to move onJULIAN FINNEY GETTY IMAGES
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04 September, 2017

Arter said: "I've got a job to do for the team and where we are in the group now, it's not a time for anyone to be learning".

Of course, if the Irish somehow topple group leaders Serbia in Dublin tomorrow night, they will go top, and all will be forgiven.

And so it proved with Georgia having 74% of the possession in a game were Ireland often looked laboured, bereft of ideas, and, in truth, lucky to escape Tbilisi with a point thanks to Shane Duffy's goal.

Martin O'Neill's men were looking for a positive result as they made the trip to Tbilisi, and they did get off to a great start as Shane Duffy headed home Cyrus Christie's free kick, with Georgi Makaridze attempting to claim the ball and failing miserably.

"The second half was slightly better and in the last 20 minutes we had the better chances even though we didn't play well". Walters believes they can do it and so, within 72 hours, consign both the weekend's performance and result, to history.

Perhaps, at what might prove a last World Cup call against Serbia, Ireland will remember that overachievers are only as good as their most committed and coherent effort - and that when this is mislaid there can be only one outcome.

And, despite how poor the Irish were, they almost pulled off the impossible.

They then had to survive a bit of late pressure, but they still had a late chance to secure what would have been a vital victory.

Jano Ananidze's chip in the tenth minute over pretty much the entire Irish squad but just out of the reach of Otar Kakabadze was the warning shot, as no Irish player felt the need to rush the man with the ball, and Georgia began to get more comfortable and cute.

Martin O'Neill's side were gifted the lead in just the fourth minute after Duffy jumped ahead of goalkeeper Giorgi Makaridze to direct a header into the bottom corner from 16 yards out.

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In the second half, Shane Long spurned a good chance.

It was Sunderland winger McGeady who could have won it in stoppage time when the ball fell to him in front of goal amid a frenetic conclusion, but he ballooned his shot high over the bar.

Sure enough, Georgia drew level on 35 minutes and deservedly so.

PROBABLY better than their 112th-placed status in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings suggests, but that will come as little consolation to Ireland.

Ireland's midfield trio of Harry Arter, Robbie Brady and Glenn Whelan had nights to forget.

There was no coherent pattern to what Ireland were doing in that first-half and it left me wondering: where's the coaching?

"I have to try and influence the game off the ball as well as on the ball", the Bournemouth midfielder said.

"For me it's a learning curve and I need to learn as quickly as possible to put things right".

The only display that comes close to rivaling it is the 3-0 defeat to Belgium at Euro 2016, but at least on that occasion, Ireland had the excuse of being defeated by one of the best sides in Europe.

We have some very good technical players who didn't perform as well as they can.


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