Top 5 things we hope to see in tonight’s match

IRLFANS

Credit FAI’s Facebook

Wes Hoolahan

AFTER years of deliberation, O’Neil finally made a decision that we all knew had to be done: he started Wes Hoolahan. The Norwich playmaker granted hasn’t had
the best of seasons so far this year; however his overall ability certainly justifies
a starting place. He was exciting to watch against Latvia and produced a
fantastic performance which received much appraisal from Keane in particular.
Fearless in showing for the ball and positive in his attacking movement,
Hoolahan was a breath of fresh air for the Irish fans and it will be anticipated that
he will be seen in the green jersey again tonight.

Passion

No one can deny that the Irish team has had its fair share of passion over the
years, but it was evident that there was a massive air of optimism at the Aviva
last week with the atmosphere at a fervent high from the Irish faithful. The
inclusion of the big name management staff was always going to have that affect
but no one can deny that we must maintain this optimism and positivity and
believe that we can succeed, and if there’s any man to inspire that into his
players, it’s Mr Keane.

Attacking full backs

In the Trappatoni era it was almost like the full backs were banned from going
past the half way line; however in the first instalment of the O’Neil era we saw
Coleman and Ward given a licence to surge attacks down the flanks and get an
overlap on the opposition. Coleman gave an energetic second-half display,
capped by a wonderful run and cross for the third goal, while Ward was also a
positive presence down the left hand flank, and thrived in his new role.

Shane Long stepping up to the mark

With the West Brom man tipped to start tonight, Irish fans are hoping to see the
26-year-old become a strong goal scoring presence for the team. Long hit 13
goals last season for West Brom, and after a transfer deadline day deal to Hull hit
the rocks, he has been mainly used sparingly by his club or thrown out on the
left-hand flank. Long has 10 international goals in as many as 42 appearances for
the Republic. On his day he is a devastating, pacey finisher with an admirable
work ethic, however the new management will require those attributes on a
more consistent basis for Long to succeed on an international level. With the
in-form Anthony Stokes now breathing down his neck, Long will certainly need to
up his game and he has a wonderful opportunity of doing just that in Poznan
tonight.

Positive play

John Giles made an interesting remark in the analysis of the Latvia game, he
said: ‘What you want to see from your team, is that when they don’t have the
ball they are doing everything they can to get it back and when they do they are
using it in a constructive manner, and that’s what we saw from the Irish team
tonight, for the first time in a very long time indeed.’
I don’t think he could have summed it up any better. Ireland performed
admirably last week in a manner which made the country proud. Gone were the
long aimless passes and negative play from the boys in green and long may it
continue.

Darragh Collins

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