Mick McCarthy refused to be downhearted after seeing the Republic of Ireland labour to beat a stubborn Gibraltar and cement their place at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group D.
Ireland, who scraped a 1-0 win in Gibraltar in March, were little-more convincing at the Aviva Stadium as they eventually claimed a 2-0 win to take their points tally from the opening four fixtures to 10.
McCarthy freely admitted the performance had not been as effective as he might have hoped, but the end result was exactly what he had been looking for.
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) June 10, 2019
The defiant Yorkshireman said: “When I took the job on December 1 and when the Euro draw and the fixtures came out, my target, 10 points was what I thought.
“I would have taken 10 points, everybody else in here, Irish journalists, fans, would have taken 10 points however we were going to get them.
“We played better against Georgia, we played better against Denmark. We have had two horrible games against Gibraltar, but we’ve dispatched them both and – as far as I’m concerned – we beat them in both, so six points from the two games.”
The win leaves the Republic five points clear of Denmark, who routed Georgia 5-1 in Copenhagen and have a game in hand, at the top of the group with Switzerland a further point behind with just two matches under their belt.
— UEFA EURO 2020 🇫🇷 (@EURO2020) June 10, 2019
However, McCarthy, knows his team will have to be significantly better if they are to remain in the race for qualification when the tougher tests arrive next season with a double-header against the Swiss and a tricky trip to Tbilisi to come before the Danes arrive in Dublin to bring down the curtain on the campaign.
He said: “We played pretty poorly against Gibraltar twice, and beat them.
“Against the better sides, who don’t want to sit in and want to play, we’ve had two really good performances, so I doubt Switzerland will come and play like they did, it will be a more open game.
“And we played well in those two games so I’d expect to us to play against Switzerland like we did against Georgia and Denmark.”
On a night when Ireland’s arrival was delayed by problems with the team bus, Joseph Chipolina’s 29th-minte own goal – which came after David McGoldrick’s wayward shot cannoned off his chest and past goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin – was all that separated the sides until deep into injury time when substitute Robbie Brady headed home a second from James McClean’s cross.
Asked if preparations had been affected by the transport problems, McCarthy said: “Did it affect us? Did it heck. They’ve come from Georgia…we’ve just come from Castleknock at 20km an hour.
“If you’re asking me to try to blame that, absolutely not.”
Gibraltar 🇬🇮 frustrate Republic of Ireland 🇮🇪 at the Aviva Stadium:
— Gibraltar FA (@GibraltarFA) June 10, 2019
Gibraltar boss Julio Ribas was philosophical in defeat, and proud of the efforts of his players.
He said: “There’s no doubt that Ireland have a great team. They played a really good game against Denmark the other day, that’s there for all to see.
“But it was up to us. We didn’t let them play today, which is pleasing.”