The game against the west Asians was useful preparation for fringe men seeking action in meaningful games during the World Cup qualification process
By Ryan Kelly
Manchester United's Robbie Brady well and truly announced his arrival on the senior international stage last night when he played an integral part in the creation of two Irish goals and scored an utterly outrageous volley from 25-yards out with his weaker right boot to help dispatch of Oman at Craven Cottage.
Prior to the game, Giovanni Trapattoni sang the young winger's praises, telling journalists that Brady was 'one of the best' players in the under-21 squad. “Technically, he can create,” said the Italian coach in the pre-match press conference. “In the past we had no other like this. He's quick and very creative. He has a good personality. Robbie knows his quality and is a little bit cocky. I think he can do well.”
But Brady might not just be 'one of the best' – he could, in fact, be the best attacking Irish talent to emerge in quite some time. And it will come as no surprise to those who have followed the Dubliner's progress over the years. A few days before receiving his call up to the senior squad, the talismanic 20-year-old had broken the goalscoring record for the Ireland under-21s, an achievement reached playing on the wing for Noel King's team. He is a complete player, one who is remarkably skilful yet also refreshingly versatile.
Others impressed too. In centre midfield, Sunderland's David Meyler made his debut alongside James McCarthy and the strapping Corkonian was busy in the execution of his role, evidently eager to impress and stake his claim for a place in the squad. For a player that has suffered, not one, but two, cruciate ligament injuries during his short career thus far, Meyler is a surprisingly energetic presence and while he played slightly deeper than McCarthy, shielding the defence, he also managed to get forward to provide much needed assistance in attack. Indeed, it was a welcome change from the tired and robotic displays of Glenn Whelan.
Arguably, the game against Oman presents a massive success for Giovanni Trapattoni. Not only was the comprehensive victory a welcome boost to morale following the tepid performance against Kazakhstan in Astana, but from a managerial standpoint it provided an education to the Italian coach as to what kind of options he has available to him.
Furthermore, it will have served as a reality check to players that had felt their place in the team was a given. Brady's magisterial contribution must surely have brought James McClean hurtling back down to earth, while David Meyler's mobility in midfield alongside McCarthy suggests that the self-appointed pariah Darron Gibson may not necessarily be missed. Everton's Seamus Coleman, too, linked up well with Brady on the right wing and he made a strong case for his deployment at right back.
However, the positivity that has been generated after the 4-1 victory is tempered by the level of the opposition and Trapattoni, one feels, is nonetheless unlikely to make changes to his team for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Germany. Regardless, the Italian's experiment is a step in the right direction and the competition levels within the Ireland squad have visibly risen, something which can only be a good thing for the Boys in Green.