MAN OF THE MATCH
Shane Long made the headlines with the only goal of the game, but big John O’Shea rallied, organised and led the defence from start to finish. The centre-half sat so deep that Germany could not get in behind the Irish defence, limiting them to just three shots on target. A clean sheet was the main aim for Ireland before kick-off, as a draw would have been enough to eliminate Scotland, so it was job done in that sense, while Long’s goal was the cherry on top.
Shay Given: 6 – The veteran goalkeeper only gets a six because, strangely, he didn’t even have a save to make before being forced to withdraw through injury on 43 minutes
Cyrus Christie: 8 – In two competitive games for Ireland, defender Christie has scored one goal and helped keep a clean sheet against the World Champions with a particularly good second-half showing. Not bad this international soccer lark, is it?
John O’Shea: 9 – This game brought the best out of John O’Shea. The former Manchester United man used all of his experience to usher and organise the Irish defence, who were heroic both individually and collectively throughout.
Richard Keogh: 8 – Prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity for the Germans with a superb last-ditch sliding intervention in the first-half and made some important blocks. Looked the part with his old-school head bandage too.
Stephen Ward: 7 – Solid if unspectacular, the full-back’s lack of game-time at club level this season appeared to catch up with him in the end, with David Meyler replacing him just before the goal.
James McCarthy: 9 – In the face of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, James McCarthy proved what all the fuss is about. The highly-rated midfielder ran Ireland’s midfield with a display of real quality; breaking up the play of the Germans while also looking a threat in possession.
Jeff Hendrick: 8 – A very disciplined performance from the Derby County midfielder, in terms of positioning and sticking to his task. His role was never going to be a particularly notable one, but an important one nonetheless.
Jonathan Walters: 9 – The Stoke City player has become pretty much indispensable for Martin O’Neill. His hold-up play when Ireland looked to counter was exceptional, while the passion the Merseyside-born attacker shows for the green shirt is every bit as commendable as the great second-generation Irish players of yesteryear.
Wes Hoolahan: 8 – Looked so comfortable in possession. The Norwich playmaker also displayed fine hold-up play when there was little to look for ahead of him. His performance makes you wonder, again, why he doesn’t have more Ireland caps than just 20.
Robbie Brady: 8 – Although he didn’t have the attacking impact he would have liked, Brady dug deep late on to play through the pain barrier as Martin O’Neill had used all of his subs. That’s the sort of attitude we love to see in a green shirt.
Daryl Murphy: 7 – Murphy was never going to get much of a sight at goal against the Germans, but he put in a shift nonetheless. Can’t really fault his performance too much, or overly praise it for that matter.
Darren Randolph: 8 – What a way to make your competitive international debut. To be thrown on in place of an injured legend against the World Champions, and go on to keep a clean sheet with over half the game remaining is some feat for the West Ham ‘keeper. Looked unfazed by the task and showed confidence throughout his time on the field.
David Meyler: 7 – Filled in adequately for the injured Ward. Ireland needed the fresh legs at that stage.
Shane Long: 9 – Misses out on a 10 because he was only on the field for 25 minutes, but what an impact he made. It’s fortunate that Ireland’s only clear sight of goal fell when the squad’s best finisher was on the field, and boy did he take his opportunity. He will be aggrieved if he doesn’t start against Poland on Sunday.