Long gives Ireland perfect send-off

Republic of Ireland 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0: Trapattoni's makeshift team show encouraging signs for Euro 2012

Aviva Stadium

Giovanni Trapattoni has cast doubt on Shay Given and John O'Shea appearing in the Republic of Ireland's opening Euro 2012 game against Croatia. The goalkeeper has a knee injury and O'Shea an ankle problem and the manager said both players will have rigorous fitness tests during the week. "When we have the next training session they must show us they are ready," said Trapattoni. Keith Fahey has been forced to withdraw from the tournament with a groin injury, the Birmingham midfielder being replaced by Derby's Paul Green.

Ireland had a good send-off yesterday. Great weather, fine result, good atmosphere and an acceptable performance. The game oscillated between moments of abrasive energy and downright dullness but Shane Long's winning goal will have built confidence. Trapattoni was never going to deviate from his system too much in a fixture so close to the European Championship and, duly, the game quickly settled into a familiar pattern. Ireland played the ball about within the framework of the Italian's rigid 4-4-2 before looking to gain openings through long balls or isolated interchanges on the edge of the box.

Ireland are unlikely to energise too many games in Euro 2012. They have an approach. They stick to it. It makes them hard to beat. There were, however, a few notable differences in this friendly. For one, there's James McClean. Trapattoni only belatedly bowed to pressure to call up the 2011-12 season's breakthrough star in February and, once he brought the Sunderland winger on in a recent friendly against the Czech Republic, the manager expressed odd surprise at the crowd's hugely enthusiastic reaction.

While McClean is certainly not Leo Messi, as Trapattoni wondered when he heard the cheers, the supporters' excitement is understandable. His direct style forces the kind of opportunities Ireland would not otherwise manufacture. On more than one occasion on his first international start, the Bosnian defenders could only bring him down, unceremoniously.

He forced the free-kick which brought Ireland's best chance before the goal when, just after half-time, Kevin Doyle nodded down for substitute Aiden McGeady to hit the post. In central midfield, Darron Gibson was given the opportunity to impress ahead of Keith Andrews, even though the two linked up well later on.

Glenn Whelan provided the best pass of the match. Just before half-time, he found Robbie Keane in the box, who expertly flicked a ball inside for Damien Duff to bring a fine save by Asmir Begovic. There was, however, a slight scare just before that, when Keane received a blow to the ribs and looked to be in considerable pain. It was injury concerns that meant Ireland's backline was relatively unfamiliar yesterday as Keiren Westwood came in for Given, Darren O'Dea started instead of Sean St Ledger and, most surprisingly of all, Paul McShane replaced O'Shea at right-back as Trapattoni selected a player who is not even among the 23-man Euro 2012 squad ahead of a confirmed member in Stephen Kelly.

For his part, McShane played exactly like he was trying to force his way into the team as he raided up the right more than a few times. On one occasion before half-time, it allowed Duff to cut inside and shoot narrowly wide. But, on the whole, Ireland's defence looked exactly what it was: patched together. Only a few timely touches and tackles from Richard Dunne prevented Bosnia-Herzegovina going ahead.

A 0-0 draw looked a hugely safe bet until, with so many substitutions, the game started to really open up on 70 minutes. With Ireland's improvised midfield actually coming together quite well, they started to produce some promising football.

McGeady was a significant factor in that. When he has freedom, the Spartak Moscow winger can look exceptional and that was certainly the case here. McGeady first crossed for Jon Walters to head against the bar and then, eventually, for Long to hit the winner.

"I think we played very well in terms of attitude, mentality and performance. I say it's a good start for the week ahead," said Trapattoni.

Five things we have learned

1. It's impossible to second-guess Trapattoni

Yesterday, a full-back who isn't in the 23-man squad – Paul McShane – got in ahead of a Premier League right-back, Stephen Kelly. Even when Trapattoni has set parameters, he can make some surprising decisions.

2. Defence remains completely dependent on Richard Dunne

The backline may have been patched together yesterday but Ireland's entire system still depends on Dunne's durability. Several key blocks illustrated he is irreplaceable.

3. McClean isn't just suited to this level... he may make a difference

While Trapattoni's defensive demands often constrain a truly technical player like Aiden McGeady, they don't affect McClean given his energy. He may just be perfectly suited to it.

4. Darron Gibson gives Trapattoni options in midfield

The Everton midfielder's range of passing altered the usual shape and direction of Ireland's otherwiseone-dimensional midfield.

5. Shane Long is putting Kevin Doyle's place under threat

After a disappointing season with Wolves, Doyle isn't exactly looking his sharpest for Ireland. His only two goals in the last two years have been against Andorra. Long's winner was a sign of how much he canoffer instead.

Miguel Delaney

Republic of Ireland (4-4-2): Westwood; McShane (Kelly, 78), Dunne (St Ledger 70), O'Dea, Ward; Duff (McGeady, 45), Gibson, Whelan (Andews, h-t), McClean; Keane (Long, 62), Doyle (Walters, 62)

Bosnia-Herzegovina (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Mujdza (Zahirovic, 55), Pandza, Jahic, Medunjanin (Vrancic, 45); Rahimic (Stevanovic, 45), Ibisevic (Vranjes, 70); Pjanic, Misimovic, Lulic; Dzeko

Referee Nikolaj Haenni (Switzerland).

Man of the match Dunne (Republic of Ireland).

Match rating 5/10.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup