Mick McCarthy was delighted with the Republic of Ireland’s efforts in securing a second consecutive European Championship qualifying victory. A 1-0 defeat of Georgia pleased the returning Ireland manager, but McCarthy acknowledged that there is still plenty of work to do ahead of a trip to Denmark in June.
“Two 1-0’s, two good results and you have got to win to gain momentum, haven’t you?” he said. “One really good performance and one job done. I think it is a little unfair to say there is a change of attitude with the players, as I have only had them for a few days. Whatever has gone on in the past, it doesn’t affect me at all.
“I have had a great 10 days with the players. They have been brilliant from day one. They have come in and been committed in training and done everything I’ve asked of them. We know we got away with one and made a couple of saves — but we could have put three or four past them, to be honest. They are a great set of lads and some really good players. Jeff Hendrick and Conor Hourihane, both of them have scored goals and put in great performances.
“I thought Glenn Whelan put in an outstanding performance as well. He belies his age, wonderful and a great athlete. As for the tennis balls, I hope we didn’t lose concentration, maybe they did. It didn’t affect us, did it? If it had of done, I’d be stood here whinging about it.”
It was an amazing turnaround for Aston Villa midfielder Whelan, effectively put out to pasture by Martin O’Neill.
“Obviously, it is a real honour playing for your country, so that was never something I was going to turn my back on,” the Dubliner told RTÉ.
“To get the phone call from the manager to come in and just push these young lads on, show them how good it is to come and play in front of these fans. I just tried to do my best. I know the last 12 months have been a little bit difficult but with a bit of confidence, we will bounce back. Two wins, we’ll take that.
“Two clean sheets and two banana skins avoided, the pressure is on them (Denmark and Switzerland) now. We will go out and give it our best.”