Randolph The Reliable
After 45 fruitless minutes of agonising football, Ireland were beginning to panic. Beneath the looming rock of Gibraltar and amidst the surrounding crosswinds of an active airport runway, Darren Randolph kept his concentration to pull off a phenomenal save which rescued Ireland from the unthinkable.
It was never going to be easy replacing one of the greatest International goalkeepers ever to play. Shay Given was a tremendous servant to Ireland’s cause and will forever be remembered as a legend. When the torch was passed to Darren Randolph expectations were low, but the man from Bray has certainly stepped up to the mark.
Through a largely unpopular run of international form spanning over the past 18 months, much negativity has been directed towards the Irish squad. Despite some disappointing results, Darren Randolph’s personal contribution has been notably impressive. Randolph has managed a haul of 7 clean sheets in his last 11 games for the ‘Boys in Green’.
Aside from two bleak occasions (Denmark 5-1, and Wales 4-1), Randolph only conceded a single goal in games against Wales and Poland. Perhaps it’s no surprise the 31 year old stopper has lightning quick reactions, standing at 6’2”, the Middlesbrough goalie has an athletic background in basketball, rugby and GAA.
After playing on an artificial surface in Gibraltar, it will be a welcome return to the Aviva Stadium’s familiar grass field on Tuesday night. Breaking down the Georgian defence may prove to be a difficult task for Ireland, however keeping a clean sheet is a realistic prospect with Randolph minding the net.
3pt win – ‘Ireland to keep Clean Sheet’ 5/6 (Bet 365)
By Ciarán Cunningham, 25/03/2019