Football / International Postscript: Charlton blessed in depth: Trevor Haylett concludes the Republic are favourites in the all-Irish qualifying stakes

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The Independent Online
WITH two late goals from two substitutes who were additions to a vastly changed team, the Republic of Ireland achieved victory over Wales and a neat and fitting conclusion to the evidence that had been slowly mounting in Dublin: namely that in the strength of his squad Jack Charlton is a more blessed international manager than his opposite number, Terry Yorath.

Charlton forsook the Tolka Park friendly for Albania to check on Billy Bingham's team before the all-Irish confrontation for World Cup points next month, and even though Northern Ireland also won with a 2-1 scoreline to move within a point of his team, Charlton was happy with that outcome.

'I wanted someone to win the match because I knew defeat would wipe out one of them from qualifying and I think Albania are out of it now,' he said.

There was also an encouraging verdict awaiting him in Dublin from his assistant, Maurice Setters. That seemed an unlikely prospect as the team he left behind - disturbed and disrupted by the serious head injury suffered by their captain, David O'Leary, after only two minutes - took some time to show their colours.

Wales, passing and moving with notable effect, led early through Mark Hughes, a foundation that seemed likely to maintain their record of success in Dublin, the more so when David Kelly blazed his penalty attempt against the bar.

The Welsh substitute, Chris Coleman, was brought on but his replacement of his Crystal Palace colleague, Eric Young, cost Wales their defensive solidity and gradually the men in green took control.

The post-interval newcomers, Kevin Sheedy and Tommy Coyne, proved to be the match-winners but barring injuries they have scant hope of forcing their way into the side for Ireland's private argument on 31 March: neither have Liam O'Brien and Alan McLoughlin, who also seized the opportunity to impress.

By a numerical comparison Wales were better off, missing just three leading performers in Ian Rush, Dean Saunders and Ryan Giggs, yet underneath their top strata they are not so well served. Just one top absentee weakens their effectiveness and they must hope to be at full strength when the Group Four leaders, Belgium, come to Cardiff next month.

O'Leary, who was concussed and required seven stitches in his forehead, was released from hospital yesterday morning.

The Irish Football Association has protested to Fifa about the conditions experienced by Northern Ireland in Albania for their World Cup game. The secretary David Bowen spoke to Fifa's official observer after the 2-1 victory in Tirana. The Irish arrived to find their hotel could accommodate only half the party. Others were taken to another hotel, which had cardboard instead of glass in the windows, no running water and inadequate toilet facilities.

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