This was Ireland's worst performance - O'Neill

FIGHTING FUND

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill had admitted before kick-off that the Group D clash was not so much a "tricky" affair as a "really, genuinely difficult" one, and so it proved as Georgia did everything within their powers to secure a first win of the campaign.

The home side's share of possession was 69 per cent.

Despite boasting eight Premier League players in their starting line-up, the Republic played like global novices.

And, despite how poor the Irish were, they almost pulled off the impossible.

Georgia XI: More to follow.

Substitute Merebashvili went close just before the board went up to reveal there would be four minutes of added time, and McGeady spurned a golden chance to repeat his trick of 2014 by volleying over.

A free-kick ended up with Aiden McGeady ten yards out, but the Sunderland winger got his feet under the ball and blazed it over in the third minute of injury time.

Sure enough, Georgia drew level on 35 minutes and deservedly so.

Midfield schemer Jano Ananidze was the architect of the home side's equaliser on the 34 minutes.

While the Irish players treated the ball like a hot potato, the Georgians caressed it from side to side, playing clever short passes that had their visitors chasing shadows.

The problem here is that chiding O'Neill on selection issues ignores the basis of his considerable success since taking over from Giovanni Trapattoni, who after the near miss in World Cup qualification in 2010 found himself a bewildered onlooker in the European Championships of 2012, when his team never began to suggest the possibility of a positive impact. Group D is highly competitive with four teams still in contention for the top spot in the group and Georgia has nearly no chance of contending for a World Cup spot.

"It's a disappointing point with the chances we had although we didn't dominate the possession and sat back".

The aimless play from Ireland continued in the second half, saved from further punishment from a tiring Georgian side, the two full backs aside.

Just woke up. Still can't comprehend how Glenn Whelan is still allowed to pull on an Ireland jersey on a regular basis.

Relative newcomer Arter has struggled at worldwide level and faces a struggle to hold onto his place tomorrow night.

There was no coherent pattern to what Ireland were doing in that first-half and it left me wondering: where's the coaching?

Hoolahan has only started two competitive games since the Euros, yet no Irish player has produced more assists in this qualifying campaign than the ex-Shelbourne player.

"I don't think there's a quick fix to it". We've got one or two very, very decent players who probably didn't play well tonight. There's definitely a sense of disappointment in the dressing room.

"If we beat Serbia at home it will all be forgotten about and we'll be top of the group, it's a huge game come Tuesday".

"Regardless of the result, that (Serbia) game was always going to be critical".

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