Football | Ireland slump to scoreless stalemate in Georgia

The Republic of Ireland have drawn 0-0 with Georgia in Tblisi.

Mick McCarthy’s men were forced to settle for a scoreless stalemate in a match devoid of creativity and quality.

The Boys in Green remain top of Group D on 12 points from six matches, though Denmark and Switzerland (second and third respectively) have games in hand on the leaders.

Ireland almost made the perfect start, with John Egan hitting the upright with a header in the fourth minute from Conor Hourihane’s free kick into the box.

The opening exchanges were scrappy, with both sides struggling to put any meaningful spells of possession together.

Callum Robinson’s dangerous whipped cross just eluded James McClean in the 34th minute, and that was about as close as Ireland came in the first half after Egan’s early chance.

James Collins cut an isolated figure up front in the first half, with the Irish midfielders behind him struggling to string any passes together in a sloppy first half.

Georgia ended the half with 58% possession, but neither side registered a shot on target.

Early in the second half, Georgia ‘keeper Giorgi Loria reacted sharply to deny Jeff Hendrick a headed goal after dropping McClean’s cross from the left.

Georgia continued to test the Irish defence without creating any chances of note as the second half wore on.

McCarthy introduced Alan Browne for Robinson after 72 minutes in a bid to inject some creativity into the game.

Three minutes later, Jeff Hendrick flashed a volley into the side-netting from a McClean cross.

Aaron Connolly came on for Collins in the 79th minute, making his senior international debut as Ireland hunted for a breakthrough.

The substitute had two chances to open the scoring following his introduction, firing a low strike straight at Loria before blasting another effort wide after a great through ball by Glenn Whelan.

Shane Duffy then headed a late free kick into Loria’s grateful arms in stoppage time as both teams were forced to settle for a point apiece.

Time will tell whether it is a point gained or lost for the Boys in Green.