Paddy Mulligan outlines "huge concerns" over Ireland creativity

Issues in attack and set pieces were apparent against Wales as the ex-Ireland defender explains

Ireland, Jeff Hendrick, Wales, Shane Long

Ireland's Jeff Hendrick ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

As things stand, if Ireland can replicate the points haul from the first half of the World Cup qualifying campaign in the remaining five group games, then reaching Russia 2018 will be within sight. 

There is still a long way to go thus guessing the points haul is a pointless endeavour, with the need to take things one match at a time.

But going forward in the literal sense is an issue that was apparent after Wales went down to 10-men at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night in the fifth round of qualification games, with Martin O'Neill's side unable to break down the opposition in the eventual stalemate.

Pre-match injuries and suspensions, of course, to the likes of Wes Hoolahan, Robbie Brady and Harry Arter would have contributed to that absence of guile from midfield.

But reflecting on the game, issues in attack are a concern according to former Ireland full back Paddy Mulligan,k especially when the Boys in Green had a man advantage in the final 20 minutes. 

"That's a huge concern and also the fact that nobody had any football intelligence to change the pattern of play and to switch play from side to side," he told Newstalk.com.

 

"Right through the game, this is so evident. Stephen Ward was screaming for the ball in the first half. I don't know how often he was screaming. Nobody just looked up and played it wide to him. That would have given us another attacking option."

The wasting of set piece opportunities was another factor Paddy highlighted.

"Another worrying aspect is the fact that from dead ball situations, we never even threatened, primarily because the balls that are being played in were absolutely horrendous," he said.

"I cannot understand how professional footballers can be so inept at trying to cross a ball. It either didn't cross the first men, never found anybody's head or else it went over everybody and out for an aimless, stupid goal kick.

"It's a huge concern, because from set pieces, when Ireland got themselves into decent positions, they were no threat to the Welsh from set pieces and that's a huge worry for Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane." 

He added that there seemed to be a lack of structure from Ireland in attack, adding that it felt like a "very poor First Division game between two mediocre teams".