State of Play: Ireland 1 Norway 2

Póg Mo Goal’s no-holds-barred player ratings.

SHAY Given must have had a spring in his step before kick-off with the news that Joe Hart is out for a few weeks. He probably could have made a better wall for the free-kick or maybe positioned himself better but he made some very good instinctive stops and who am I to question the best goalie in the world who, hopefully, will get a chance to make Mancini see sense and get the respect that he has earned over the years in return.

Stephen Kelly – A steady ship at full-back. Bit harsh with the free that led to the goal as there was no way he could have known much about it. Looks a Premiership player and if I were a manager I’d try to accomdate him in the back-four ahead of Sean St.Sh*te-bag, Kilbane and Mcshane.

Darren O’Dea – deputising for St. Ledger. From what was written by newspapers and various Irish sports websites, this was his chance to make a serious claim. But he didnt look great at all or indeed any better than the last time I saw him play. The Norwegians made him look like a defender from the Oman team on Fifa 95 on several occasions. Probably still marginally better than Sean St. Sinner. Same sh”te different bucket really.

O’Shea – started very strongly and tried to set the tempo early on, admirable, when you consider the amount of different positions he’s been asked to play for his club and country and how he seems to be able to assimilate so easily. I believe he will retain his place at United over the next few games as he is their latent best option from Raphael and Wes Brown. Another man who deserves more respect than his manager is currently giving him.

Greg Cunnigham – A very fresh-faced looking young man. Got forward excellently and offered more than Duff and Hunt combined on that left side, but looked a tad ropey in defence. Only a fool would think that Zayalata is a better player, sadly that fool manages Manchester City. Time and youth is on his side – he was born in 1991 which means he was only 3 when Cockney Joe came out- On this showing he is our new hottest prospect after Seamus Coleman.

Liam Lawrence – Not to be getting on the lad’s back but he’s limited. But we know this and we don’t need to be shown this again which is why Coleman should have been given some time in this role.

Glenn Whelan – Likewise – looks OK at times in games like this, and I’ll tell you why – the other team were coming on to him and the impetus was not on him to play so it means he is not receiving the ball and because lads are comin on to him he can knock it away and give the impression that he is keeping things ticking over. But when the onus is on him to bring the ball into space and create something he is found out, and found out very badly, and indeed he knows this. So it’s like that game where your hammering the moles with the hammer – alls you got to do is keep hitting them moles when they pop up when you have the hammer, and its easy – but when you are the mole – it’s a lot more difficult because you have to try and time your popping up in such a way that baffles the lad with the hammer i..e the opposing defence or midfield. Do you understand? (Good cos its 2 in the morning and I haven’t slept since Monday) Aside from chipping balls at Shane Long’s head, he endeavoured to create f”ck all. Also, was it me or does he look overweight? I genuinely despise the player and it irks me how little Trapattoni is willing to make an effort to find an alternative when you consider how awful and limited the player is, and in such a key position on the pitch.

Keith Fahey – passes well and has good technique, striking the ball well on either foot. He was playing in an unfamiliar role but never shirked a pass or the chance to get forward. He’s a midfield mercenary-type really, like a Lampard, and isn’t really the type of player to control or dictate the pace of a game. But even at this, he manages to contribute more than any of those four goons (Green, Whelan, Gibson, Andrews) you put in alongside him. The sad thing is Fahey will be displaced by one of those goons come next February even though he has fought brilliantly to retain his place in a decent Premiership side.

Aidan McGeady – not to be getting on his back – he dribbled well and got into some nice space and good shooting angles but the man is never comfortable with having to strike the ball. He has not improved in any shape or form under Trapattoni’s tenure. Weak and very little end product – but we know this and we don’t need to shown this again which is why Coleman should have been given some time in this role.

Damian Duff – subdued and never really made much of an effort to take on the full-back – still getting back to full fitnes – and this friendly was probably more useful to him than most as he thankfully came through without picking up a hamstring which he has done over the years when been out for a while. It’s imperative that he gets back starting on the wing for Fulham.

Kevin Doyle – looks a tad frustrated but thats to be expected when Glenn Whelan, Liam Lawrence and Aidan McGeady are your supply line. May have been carrying a knock but Trap should have left him on longer because the man badly needs a goal from somewhere as soon as possible.

Shane Long – Impressive showing again from the young lad – From where I was sitting I thought he should have had a hattrick but watching the highlights later I could see that these weren’t easy chances. Earned and scored a penalty from a pretty rubbish pass. Drop Keane and start Long?

Jon Walters – A lively lad. Jon Walters was game but hardly blessed with service. You can tell he’s not going to be a whole lot greater than Folan. Average first touch. A poor man’s Doyle. If he scores 10 goals in the Premiership I will eat out my own ass.

Kevin Foley – on form he’s the best full back this country has to offer right now after John O’Shea. This doesnt matter diddly to Trap. Sean St Sh*te and Kilbane will invariably oust him from the back-four.

Stephen Hunt – Came on and ran like f*ck for the half like he always does. Feisty but predominantly craft-less.

Seamus Coleman – We still had unused subs yet with 70 minutes gone there wasn’t the usual announcement of the night’s attendance to raise a cheer. Perhaps because the turnout wasn’t so great, so even the FAI people at the Aviva must have been praying for Coleman’s introduction to raise the morale in what was a largely turgid affair. What ensued was lousy. McGeady kept doing the things that McGeady does best, being a frustrating weakling with zero to very little end product. Hunt being headless. Glenn Whelan giving me stomach cancer. The stage was set for Coleman, who is more than deserving of his chance, to enter the fray.

Even for the sake of the fans and indeed young Coleman, Trap should have given the man 10 or even 5 minutes. Next time round he could be injured or worse still McShane could be fit. This was utterly pig headedness from Trapatoni who needs to take a serious rain check. I put up with the Paul Greens of this world. I put up with the Sean St Ledgers of this world and I still pay the asking price for the tickets, but when, for no good reason, the most talented man in the stadium (after me) was left sitting on his seat pissed off and sad, then I think it reflects poorly on the manager whom, for all his seemingly good Catholic ways, is acting like nothing more than a mean old Protestant Landlord. A bad night for Irish football.

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