Mick McCarthy must wonder what he has done to offend Macedonia. Two of his most excruciating encounters as Republic of Ireland manager came against the country in the late 1990s – results which effectively cost the country a place at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 – and on Saturday in Dublin the Macedonians slapped him in the face for a third time.
The medial ligament damage suffered by Kevin Doyle after 17 minutes could not be blamed on any visiting player, but that will not be of any solace to the Wolves manager as he faces the prospect of being without his leading striker for the rest of the Premier League season.
"The knee injury is not well at the moment, it's the medial ligament," confirmed current Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday. "I think for the future, for our next game in June, he will be ready but he could be out for one or two months."
The results of a scan on Doyle's left knee yesterday will confirm the time-line for the player's comeback, but Trapattoni was not surprised that the striker had picked up an injury. "One of the doubts I had coming into the match having watched Doyle in matches and in training was that he was a little tired and not on top of his game," he said. "Players who play all the time in England run the risk of getting to June and being empty."
To ensure that the Doyle situation is not repeated, Trapattoni has allowed Damien Duff, Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Kevin Kilbane to miss tomorrow's friendly against Uruguay. Following Russia's draw with Armenia on Saturday, a result which has left Russia, Ireland and Slovakia joint-top of Group B with 10 points, the Italian will want his key players available for an away game against Macedonia in June that will be crucial to his side's chances of earning automatic qualification for the tournament in Poland and the Ukraine.
Trapattoni might have added Aiden McGeady to that list. Stationed on the left flank, the Spartak Moscow winger cut in to superb effect in the second minute to fire Ireland into the lead. "For the past two years I have been repeating this to McGeady," said Trapattoni. "The habit in English football is for a winger to look for a cross but McGeady has the potential to run inside and shoot with either foot."
As good as McGeady was, he should be thankful for a pitiful goalkeeping display from Edin Nuredinoski. The back-up keeper allowed the ball to slip through his fingers for Ireland's first and he parried a ball straight into Keane's path for the second. McCarthy must be wondering what he has to do to get such luck against a country that continues to trip him up.
Republic of Ireland (4-4-2): Westwood; Foley, Dunne, O'Dea, Kilbane; Duff, Whelan, Gibson (Fahey, 77) McGeady; Keane (McCarthy, 87), Doyle (Long, 17).
Macedonia ((4-3-3): Nuredinoski, Shikov, Noveski, Grncharov, Popov; Demiri (Georgievski, 84), Tasevski (Gjurovski, 61), Shumulikoski; Trichovski, Pandev, Naumoski (Risticj, 68).
Man of the match McGeady
Match rating 6/10
Referee I Vad (Hungary).
Attendance 33,200Reuse content