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Mar 26, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Aviva Stadium
Attendance: 40,317
Rep. IrelandRepublic of Ireland
Hourihane (36')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Mick McCarthy hails "excellent" group leaders Republic of Ireland

McCarthy hails
© Reuters
Conor Hourihane's goal handed Ireland a deserved victory.

Mick McCarthy was a happy man after seeing the Republic of Ireland complete a maximum haul of six points from their first two Euro 2020 qualifiers on his return as manager.

Conor Hourihane's fine free-kick secured a 1-0 win over Georgia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night to go with their victory by the same score, but in far more prosaic style, over Group D minnows Gibraltar on Saturday.

With Switzerland and Denmark fighting out a 3-3 draw in Basel, Ireland sit at the top of the group, although tougher tests lie ahead.

Asked if they could stay there, McCarthy said: "Don't know. It's a good place to be, isn't it, after two games?

"There was a lot that pleased me tonight – individual performances, the all-round team performance, which I thought was excellent.

"We've had a great week, working and training. We've stopped them (Georgia) from doing what they wanted to do. I thought we played some really good football."

Some fans threw tennis balls on to the pitch as protests against outgoing Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney punctuated the game at regular intervals, but the atmosphere was largely positive as Ireland played with a genuine vigour for long periods.

Asked if it reminded him of the good old days of his first spell in charge, McCarthy said: "Good, new days. It's a good day.

"That's all in the past. I never think about that, what's happened in the past. This is a new start for me, and a new start with some new players. I thought the atmosphere was brilliant."

Hourihane's decisive 39th-minute strike came after a clean-up operation to remove the tennis balls from the pitch, and while McCarthy had urged supporters not to protest before the game, he was simply pleased their actions had not broken the concentration of his players.

He said with a smile: "It was balls, wasn't it? I was concerned it would affect our concentration after our free-kick if they broke on us.

"I don't know if it affected their concentration or not, but it doesn't matter what happened, there was no stopping that free-kick. I don't think it affected the game at all.

"Apparently Paddy Power had odds on me getting hit on the head, so I turned around and thought, 'If anyone throws one, I'm going to head it back', so whoever bet on it would have won the money."

Opposite number Vladimir Weiss admitted before the game that Georgia's chances of qualifying from the group – they already have a play-off place by virtue of their Nations League exploits – could depend on how they fared in Dublin after losing their opening fixture at home to Switzerland.

He said: "We have lost these two games and that's not good for us, but we have played against Switzerland and Ireland, two of the top teams in the group along with Denmark.

"We will try our best and work hard to prepare against the top teams, but it is different when you are playing against players from the Premier League and the Champions League when our players play in Kazakhstan and Poland.

"The days when Georgian players played at big clubs in England and Italy are in the past."

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Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy pictured on March 22, 2019
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States25292276
Great BritainGreat Britain14181547
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also guaranteed a medal, but will look to ensure that is either gold or silver as he takes on Cuba's Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final (7.35am)

· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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