Sitting top of the group after their opening two games, the Irish players will be “absolutely desperate” to regroup with the Irish camp again, according to Gary Breen.
The first home game of the second Mick McCarthy era had a lot of positives and speaking on Wednesday’s OTB AM Breen said that the presence of a good atmosphere and strong tactical plan means that a positive mood has returned to the Irish camp.
“You can see the mood in the camp has changed”, Breen declared. “You can see that in the energy with which the team played and the supporters loved it.”
“We played like an Ireland team. We played like a Mick McCarthy team, on the front foot.”
“We had runners in behind. We just looked like we had numbers, energy, verve, the crowd was with it. I just thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The feel-good mood of the game will be a welcome change for the players compared to the final months of the O’Neill and Keane era, Breen believes.
“I have no doubt in my mind all of those players now, even the ones who didn't start, in terms of the camaraderie that's been created and the atmosphere, will be absolutely desperate to get back on that plane and get back over to meet up for the next international in a way that we were led to believe wasn’t the case under the previous regime.”
Breen also disagreed with criticisms that the fan’s tennis balls protest in the 33rd minute could have negatively affected the players.
“I was watching the game and suddenly the tennis balls come on and you think ‘Ah lads’ but as soon as they cleared it did you hear the roar of that crowd?
“I started getting goose-pimples, thinking I remember that so much at Landsdowne where there was periods where things were a little bit difficult and then the roar would come up and you would literally turn around to your teammates and say ‘Come on lads, let's go, we’re ready.’”
Prior to McCarthy’s return, Ireland had won just one of the nine games they had played since the end of 2017.
By Jake O'Donnell