Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Switzerland: O'Neill hails Duffy and Clark as central to win

By Daniel McDonnell

Hindsight tends to judge the value of these exercises so, come the summer, we may well look back on this night as significant in terms of deciding the identity of the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 squad.

In the immediate aftermath, it was hard to do so with any kind of certainty.

A win over the side ranked 12th in the world is a decent night's work, although the fixture is unlikely to live too long in the memory of the 35,450 in attendance - a good number of whom seemed to be equally energised by the jostling for positions at the bar.

Martin O'Neill used the fixture to launch the international career of three players - Alan Judge, Eunan O'Kane and Jonny Hayes - while centre-half Shane Duffy made his second Irish appearance and will feel he has furthered his claims.

That said, his defensive partner Ciaran Clark, who scored the only goal, is ahead in the queue and can be satisfied with his contribution.

Unfortunately, the postscript to this match could be its impact on Kevin Doyle who was taken to hospital with a deep gash on his leg after a first-half incident that has placed his French hopes in jeopardy.

O'Neill was satisfied with the win and reserved praise for his central defenders.

"It was nice to win against a very decent Switzerland side. There were things that we can definitely improve on but there were a couple of decent performances individually," he said.

"I know Clark inside out, I had him at Villa as a lad. In the last two qualification games he was absolutely fantastic. I thought young Duffy did very well indeed. He was very solid all evening."

O'Neill said he hoped to see his side become more composed on the ball.

"When we have possession I think we should have a wee bit more confidence in ourselves to be able to deal with the ball."

Goalscorer Clark admitted the game had been a tough test.

"The most important thing was getting the clean sheet," he said. "To get a goal as well is also brilliant for me personally."

Quite a number of the punters that had arrived at the Aviva early to avail of the full beverage service were still downing their drinks when the Republic grabbed the only goal.Two minutes into the match it was the rising figure of Duffy that had the crowd on their feet with his header from Robbie Brady's corner nodded into the net by the blissfully unmarked Clark.

"We had worked on that on the training ground," said the Aston Villa man.

Doyle suffered his injury after only 26 minutes. He closed down Timm Klose and appeared to have got the better of a physical challenge but the Swiss player's studs were raised and Doyle felt the brunt of the impact as he sprinted away to gather the ball.

Instantly, he signalled to the bench that his evening was over and silence enveloped the ground as strike partner Shane Long consoled him during the lengthy wait for a stretcher.

Belfast Telegraph


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