|Republic of Ireland V Georgia U21|
|10-10-09 12:19 PM|
|Author:||Phil Mac Giolla Bain|
Final score: 1-1
Alan Judge (28 minutes)
George Ivanishvilli (88 minutes)
Last night in Shamrock Rovers excellent little stadium in Tallaght I was given a rare glimpse of what Celtic had passed up in James McCarthy.
How this lad can’t even get in the SQUAD at Wigan has me utterly baffled.
For the first hour McCarthy ran the show for Ireland in the playmaker role.
When he was finally substituted in the dying minutes of this hard fought contest he was shot, totally gone.
For the team’s sake he should have been taken off earlier as his control was gone through fatigue and he was starting to make bad decisions.
However it was just that, fatigue, of a player who missed the early part of the season due to injury and is now not getting on the bench at Wigan.
I caught up with him after the match down on the touchline. It is a year since I interviewed a nervous wee lad at New Douglas Park. He’s clearly got taller.
He acknowledged that he was gone physically by the time he had been hooked by Don Givens.
As ever the professional he didn’t want to dwell on the treatment he received in Scotland for choosing to play for Ireland.
“I didn’t hear most of it,” he told me.
His mother and sister were on the touchline. Mothers, as is their right and duty, have an inclination to mind their cubs. She was much more forthcoming about the treatment that her son had received from the racists bin Scotland. Marie McCarthy and I had been in touch by telephone this time last year when I was writing about James and the abuse he was receiving.
She broke news to me that those lovely non-racist St. Mirren fans had played in a pre-season friendly at Wigan. Once more the “buddies” barracked James at every touch of the ball. Like myself last October at New Douglas Park she didn’t need to rely on press reports of the game-she was there.
At least now he is playing in a country where playing for Ireland isn’t a crime.
The game itself was a hard fought one one draw.
Ireland opened the scoring on from a goal by Alan Judge on 28 minutes with a low shot from 12 yards. The Plymouth Argyle winger had been left unattended by the left back, as McCarthy had burst into the box. The ball broke to the little number 7 who drilled it across the goal past keeper Roni Kvaskhvadze.
Judge’s club mate Cillan Sheridan thought he had doubled Ireland’s lead when he latched onto big Keith Treacy’s brilliant cross field diagonal ball. The young Cavan lad struck it cleanly, but saw his effort come back off the upright with the Georgian keeper a spectator.
Ireland quite reasonably could have been four nil up at half time. More often than not the incisive move came through McCarthy’s probing in behind the central striker Cillian Sheridan.
Ireland had a good shape of 4-3-3/4-5-1.
In the first half Ireland’s wingers, Judge and Treacy troubled the Georgian back line getting behind again and again.
In the second half as McCarthy tired the Georgians started to assert control of the midfield.
No one in the press box expressed surprise that the Georgians levelled the score.
When Georgia finally equalised in 88 minutes through George Ivanishvilli their dug out celebrated like they had received a phone call from Vladimir Putin telling them it was all in the past and the thousand of Russian tanks had been turned round and were heading back to base.
It was a swift move by the Georgians down Ireland’s left flank. The shot from 18 yards gave Shane Redmond no chance.
Ireland had allowed them back, but it was no more than the Georgians had deserved as they had started to press Ireland back after the hour mark.
Fort the last five minutes of play open warfare of the soccer variety broke out as both teams chased the winner.
Ireland almost lost the match when Shane Redmond pulled off a top class save from substitute Levan Kutalia.
One of the small contingents of Georgia supporters became particularly exercised as he feverishly “dried” his hair with the small Georgian flag he had been holding limply for most of the game.
Now as the play favoured his country it was time to rub his head with the national flag.
I approve of patriotism, but using the national flag, as towel is a new one for me.
In the VIP area afterwards big Pakkie Bonner was seething that Ireland had let this one slip.
Hopefully tonight the big boys get a result against Italy.
A weak area for the full international squad is central midfield. This isn’t the place to re-ventilate the Andy Reid debate. However if a fully fit James McCarthy was a regular starter at Wigan then I honestly couldn’t see someone like Darren Gibson keep him out of Trappatoni’s central midfield.
In front of me in the press box was another journalist, but he wasn’t compiling a match report. Instead he was live blogging the game for UEFA. A new development from the governing body all UEFA competitions, including Champions league and Europa cup games are now live blogged. This blog is then compared to the match delegate’s report. At halftime we chatted about the issues of racism in the game and my interest in James McCarthy. A Spaniard living in Ireland and working for a news agency, he agreed with me that, at some point, UEFA would have to intervene in Scotland about the Irish issue. He took on board that; in a cultural and political sense Rangers were the Real Madrid of Scotland. Over mighty in the corridors of influence.
James McCarthy proudly stood to attention last night and faced the flag of his country as “Amhrann na bhFiann” was played.
One day in Scotland, that won’t be cultural crime.
Shane Redmond; Seamus Coleman, Gavin Cunning, Brendan Moloney, Calum Morris; Stephen Gleeson, Owen Garvan (C), James McCarthy; Alan Judge, Cillian Sheridan, Keith Treacy.
Subs: O'Shea for Treacy (80), Hughton for Coleman (86), Collins for McCarthy (90).
Roini Kvaskhvadze; Gulverd Tomashvili, Lasha Totadze, Giorgi Khidesheli, Levan Kakubava; Murtaz Daushvili, Irakli Klimiashvili, Levan kenia, Giorgi Gugava;George Ivanishvili, Mate Vatsadze
Subs: Kutalia for Gugava (61), Janelidze for Vatsadze (72), Tchedia for Tomashvili (87).
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