Conor Hourihane got Mick McCarthy’s home coming off to a wining start with a stunning free kick as Ireland beat Georgia 1-0 in the Aviva Stadium writes Dave Hooper.
Hourihane served a 34th minute ace as tennis balls rained down on the Aviva Stadium pitch in protest of John Delaney, and Ireland collected their second win of the Euro 2020 qualifying.
The protest may have been loud and visible, but the support of McCarthy’s men was evident in McCarthy’s first win in Dublin since prior to the 2002 World Cup.
McCarthy’s side came out on the front foot, just seven minutes where on the clock when they first tested Giorgi Loria’s goal.
Robbie Brady returning to the side for his first start in well over a year zipping a shot wide of the post after a positive opening from the hosts.
Positive starts hasn’t been a part of Irish football for the last couple of years but that was hall mark of the McCarthy era part one.
Two minutes later Hendrick and McGoldrick combined to free Seamus Coleman in space in the box. Coleman’s cross was too high, when he should have kept it low across goal.
Loria was forced into a smart save from Conor Hourihane’s shot after Hendrick’s tackle on Solomon Kverkvelia. The Georgia keeper saving well to his left.
A minute later Ireland were in again, this time McGoldrick collects a pass from goalkeeper Randolph, a one-two and McGoldrick fizzes the ball just wide.
Ireland looked controlled on the ball, and with the exception of a break in concentration from a Georgia corner a tame header was cleared off the line by Enda Stevens, due to a mix up between Randolph and Stevens.
The goal when it came, arrived in connection with the protest Mick McCarthy had asked fans to withhold from the Aviva Stadium.
McGoldrick’s turn off McClean’s ball was cut short by Kashia. Bang on 33 minutes the tennis balls arrived from all the levels of Lansdowne Road haulting the game for a minute.
Conor Hourihane given the single curled a powerful 20-yard free kick around the wall and past the despairing Loria who was too far to his left.
While generally quiet in the first half, Randolph produced an excellent close range save two minutes into first-half injury time.
Georgia’s ball to the back post was nodded down for Gvilia whose powerful shot was turned away by Randolph with McClean completing the clean-up.
The second half saw Georgia pick up the pace as they looked to get back into the game, McClean lucky not to see yellow for a foul on Kakabadze. The result free was wasted.
Ireland had the ball in the net on 58 minutes, with a good move involving McGoldrick to Brady, Brady delayed pass found the on rushing Stevens.
Stevens shot come cross was finished by Hendrick’s put the linesman’s flag chalked off the goal.
A minute later Hendrick raced into a one-on-one with Kverkvelia, Hendrick’s reverse pass didn’t come off and Georgia cleared.
McGoldrick had a penalty shout on 65 minutes, McClean treading a ball to Ireland striker, who got caught in a tussle with Kverkvelia, referee Serdar Gözübüyük, waving the protests away.
McClean opened up Georgia down on 69 minutes, the pullback couldn’t find Hourihane, Enda Stevens pounced on the loose ball, but could only fire wide.
McGoldrick was unlucky two minutes later, McCleans long ball was misjudged by Kverkvelia, Ireland’s lone striker beat Loria to the ball, but his heavy touch brought him wide of goal.
McGoldrick had produced a man of the match performance but his endless efforts eventually seeing him replaced by Matt Doherty with nine minutes remaining.
Then it was time for Ireland’s post to be rattled. The Irish defence had organised well with nothing appearing on, Kankava 30-yarder rattled the Irish post.
While Ireland looked for a second, the effort of predominately championship players saw them become ragged in the final 10 minutes.
The simple pass and relative opportunities not presenting themselves as a result.
Ireland may have tired, but hope now develops as Ireland sit a top group D with six points.
Republic of Ireland: Randolph, Coleman, Duffy, Keogh, Stevens, Whelan, Hourihane, Brady (O’Brien 72), Hendrick, McClean, McGoldrick (Doherty 81)
Georgia: Loria, Kakabadze (Okriashvili 85), Kverkvelia, Kashia, Khocholava (Kharabadze 65), Gvilia, Kankava, Kankav, Kiteishvili, Arveladze (Qazaishvili 72), Kvilitaia
Referee: Serdar Gözübüyük (Netherlands)