Ireland a step closer to EURO 2020 qualification
Eurosport

Ireland are now four points away from qualifying for the European Championships next year, after drawing 0-0 at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, in Tbilisi.

It was a match of slim pickings for Ireland who poised without any punch on a night they could've cemented their EURO 2020 place. John Egan came the closest to breaking the deadlock for either side in the opening stages as his header crashed the post from a Conor Hourihane set-piece.

Aaron Connolly made his senior international bow with ten minutes left with an aim to make an impact. He came so close to doing so in the 90th minute when he raced onto Glenn Whelan's clearance. Forced wide of Giorgi Loria's goal, the Brighton forward could only hit the side netting.

Shane Duffy was also disappointed he didn't steal the points at the death when he rose highest to connect with James McClean's corner. Loria claimed the ball on the goal line in an anxious finale for the hosts.

Man of the Match

With six clean sheets in Ireland's last nine in all international competitions, John Egan has been a centrepiece and mainstay in the Irish backline.

He was composed and mature in his defending in Tbilisi. Unlucky not to get a goal himself in the opening stages of the game, Egan will look to cement his position in Mick McCarthy's side before a potential European Championship campaign next year.

Takeaways

 

There's a lack of cutting edge...

Republic of Ireland have scored just eight goals in their last 13 away matches in all competitions, never netting more than once in a game and failing to score on five occasions.

They sit comfortably in Group D but have registered drastically fewer goals than their qualification rivals Denmark and Switzerland

There's a bright future...

Connolly's introduction changed the game. His enthusiasm, attitude and ability almost won the game. Ireland have a good crop of young players that will get better under McCarthy and through playing regular first team football in the Premier League.

Richard Keogh's days are over...

Shane Duffy and John Egan are forming an unformidable partnership at the heart of Ireland's solid defence. Kevin Long has also impressed in recent internationals. After a year or so injury lay-off, Keogh won't get near the team.

What's next for Ireland?

Geneva awaits in a top two clash against Switzerland before hosting Denmark at The Aviva next month. A friendly against New Zealand will be played in between the two crucial games.

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