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Perfect start to Euro qualifying campaign

Thursday, 28th March, 2019 8:55am

Bandon's Conor Hourihane sealed a second successive 1-0 win for Ireland this week, when he scored the only goal of the game in a narrow win over Georgia on Tuesday night.

The game, the second qualifier in Ireland's UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, saw the boys in green top Group D, following their previous 1-0 win over Gibraltar in the opening qualifying match on Saturday night.

Hourihane, who plays his club football with Aston Villa was named man of the match for his performance against Gibraltar and carried his rich vein of form in to Tuesday’s game with a sublime free kick just before the stroke of half-time - the decisive score of the game.

The goal was particularly noteworthy, not just for the skill shown by Hourihane, but also for his concentration. Just before he stepped-up, a protest was launched by a number of fans in response to John Delaney's position within the FAI. About 100 tennis balls were thrown on to the pitch, mainly from behind the goal Ireland were defending. Following a two-three minute hold-up, Hourihane ensured the wait was worth it with an absolute peach of a goal, his first for Ireland.

40,317 were in attendance at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, and although the opposition must be taken in to account, it was a largely enjoyable Irish performance with plenty of attacking intent and a number of chances created.

Man of the Match went to David McGoldrick, while 35 year old Glenn Whelan rolled back the years with an impressive shift while captain Seamus Coleman was also hugely effective.

The two wins and six points means Ireland are top the group as Switzerland and Denmark drew 3-3 in the other Group D match taking place on Tuesday night.

The next round of qualifiers comes in June, when Ireland face a trip to Denmark on 7 June, while Gibraltar will look to atone last Saturday's defeat with a visit to the Aviva Stadium three days later.

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