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Richard Dunne is the White Paul McGrath
Richard Dunne put in a towering performance during Ireland's victory over Cyprus, but greater challenges lie ahead, particularly the formidable Azzurri.
Tony Cascarino, 03 Nov 2008
It speaks volumes about how far we’ve come under Giovanni Trapattoni that, unlike during the European qualifiers, Shay Given wasn’t the default choice for Man of the Match against Cyprus!
Keeping another clean sheet will give Shay and the other lads at the back enormous confidence going into the next round of matches, which starts with a very winnable fixture at home against Georgia, who we totally outclassed in Mainz.
However, Richard Dunne was my Man of the Match. He had an outstanding game: I don’t think it’s premature to say that he’s become the white Paul McGrath. The Cypriots are no mugs up front, and his tackling and blocking in situations when they might have grabbed an equaliser was crucial to us getting the three points.
It was also great to see Damien Duff skipping past people again: he laid on a lovely ball for Robbie Keane’s goal, but he’s still a little bereft of confidence around the box, which is probably down to the nightmare season Newcastle have been having. We need him back scoring goals.
Robbie and Kevin Doyle both lost their usual four lbs in sweat covering every blade of grass, but there wasn’t enough link up between them for my liking. Robbie’s so fond of working the left channel and Kevin the right that rarely do you find them combining in the middle. It’s a problem. One of the keys to England’s resurgence has been the interplay between Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey who ran both Kazakhstan and Belarus ragged. It’s something Trapattoni will have to address before we play Italy because they’ll have watched the videos and know exactly what to expect from the lads when they get the ball.
It was nice to see Paul McShane putting last season’s woes behind him and having a decent game, although there were a couple of little errors that a better team might have punished. But he is a player with long-term potential.
I was surprised that Trapattoni didn’t make a substitution until deep into injury time, because Duffer, Robbie and Aiden McGeady looked all out after 70 minutes, and we could have done with Shane Long or Stephen Hunt perhaps coming on and freshening things up. Looking at the bench though, it does worry me that if we lose key players through injury, we don’t have many natural replacements.