Farewell Glenn Whelan and Northern Ireland down – what we learned

Darren Randolph made a string of saves to deny Northern Ireland victory as they drew 0-0 with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Two struggling sides ultimately cancelled each other out, but only after Randolph made a number of saves to ensure the Green and White Army did not savour success on their rivals’ home turf.

Here Football Paradise looks at five things we learned from the match

Northern Ireland need a hit man

Northern Ireland’s lack of a cutting edge was again on stark display as they passed up a string of chances to win the game. Gavin Whyte and Jordan Jones were both clean through on goal at different stages but could not find the beating of Randolph, and Kyle Lafferty’s return – on as a substitute with 20 minutes to play after being welcomed back into the squad – did nothing to help.

McClean the pantomime villain

There were fears the Stoke winger would be a target of abuse from away fans over his decision not to wear a poppy ahead of Armistice Day, but though he was loudly jeered every time he touched the ball (and cheered by the home support just as loudly) there was nothing sinister in the attention he received before he was substituted in the 66th minute.

Whelan bids farewell

Glenn Whelan made his 85th and final Republic appearance, captaining the side before being replaced after 35 minutes. The 34-year-old was then given a special presentation at half-time, recognition of his role as a stalwart for many years in this Republic team. Though rarely a stand-out performer, Whelan himself will tell you he only tasted defeat 16 times when playing for the Republic – leaving big shoes to fill in midfield.

Brady boost

Robbie Brady made his first Republic appearance in over a year following a knee injury, and it will have been a welcome sight for Martin O’Neill. On a night where the Republic again struggled to create chances, the best of what they did have came from his set-pieces.

Northern Ireland suffer relegation

Away from Dublin, a 0-0 draw between Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Vienna confirmed Northern Ireland’s relegation from League B of the Nations League, and ensured Sunday’s game against Austria at Windsor Park will be a dead rubber. Northern Ireland’s campaign in the competition proved deeply frustrating, with the opening home defeat against Bosnia – a match they dominated but contrived to lose 2-1 – setting the tone.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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