Ireland Keane For Glory Against Minnows
Rep of Ireland v Gibraltar
Despite the game being overshadowed by Roy Keane’s book release, Ireland do take part in a match this weekend, although the fact it’s…
…against Gibraltar does explain the distraction somewhat.
A brilliant last gasp effort from Aiden McGeady sealed a 2-1 win and crucial three points for Ireland in their first group game against Georgia, despite a lacklustre performance overall from Martin O’Neill’s side. McGeady had opened the scoring in Tbilisi – with the brace doubling the international goals tally for the Everton – but a blistering strike from Tornike Okriashvili had looked to have given the hosts a point until the Irish winger’s late intervention.
It was a second win on the spin for Ireland following six games without victory for O’Neill’s side, and the fourth victory in ten games since the former Aston Villa boss replaced Giovanni Trapattoni in the dugout.
This will be only the sixth game Gibraltar have played in since being recognised as a full international side by UEFA, although their failure to receive such acknowledgement from FIFA means they are yet to be given an official world ranking. Boss Allen Bulla has already seen his side pick up their first win, a 1-0 defeat of Malta in June, while they’ve also played out a 1-1 draw against Estonia but have also suffered losses to the Estonians, the Faroe Islands, and, most recently, Poland.
That defeat to the Poles came in their first ever qualifier last month, which ended in a 7-0 hammering in a game played in Faro on the Portuguese Algarve. Poland were a solitary goal ahead at half-time but the concession of four in a ten-minute second half spell proved Gibraltar’s undoing, with Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scoring four.
Everton duo James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman have both been ruled out of this game having also missed their club’s defeat to Manchester United last weekend, with Coleman an expected absentee for the clash with Germany next week too. Shay Given is also out with the Aston Villa keeper suffering from a hip problem. Darron Gibson could replace McCarthy in midfield, while David Meyler may revert to full-back to make room for either a more creative and attacking midfielder in Wes Hoolahan or Shane Long partnering Robbie Keane up front.
Preston North End defender Scott Wiseman is the only player in the Gibraltar squad to ply his trade professionally in England, with the majority of the squad made up of the most successful side in the country; Lincoln Red Imps, on a part-time basis.
It should really go without saying that a team which have existed for only five games in their entire history have yet to play against Ireland in any of them.
The Irish boss has already stated how this is an absolute must-win game for his side and the 1/100 on a home win shows that should be exactly the case, so the real question will be by how much. A home win -3 on the handicap is priced at 4/9 while -4 offers punters the chance to almost double their money at 20/21 and a win by six or more for Ireland is available at 19/10.
It’s hard to back any of those with real conviction though, as Gibraltar’s result against Poland is the only thing to gauge them by, and that was somewhat distorted by the glut of goals in ten second-half minutes.
Robbie Keane (3/10), Long (4/11), Walters (4/9) and Hoolahan (8/13) all look viable on score and win doubles while the 13/10 on Ireland’s record goalscorer to score two or more could prove the best punt of the lot.