Mick McCarthy started his second spell in charge of the Republic of Ireland with a dire 1-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Gibraltar on Saturday.
The 60-year-old – who first managed his country between 1996 and 2002 – took over from Martin O'Neill in November, but any thoughts that he would usher in a new era with a swashbuckling win were soon dispelled.
Gibraltar – ranked 194th in the world – more than held their own in the first half but were ultimately undone four minutes after the restart when Jeff Hendrick stroked home for his second international goal.
The visitors rarely looked like adding to that strike as their Group D campaign got off to a winning start, albeit an extremely underwhelming one.
Ireland were frustrated in the opening stages and had to wait until just before the half-hour mark for their first sight of goal. A superb reaction save from Kyle Goldwin, however, prevented Roy Chipolina's wayward header from finding the back of his own net.
Chipolina was involved again shortly before the interval, blocking David McGoldrick's goal-bound flick, while Conor Hourihane's free-kick from the left fizzed past Goldwin's post in the first half's closing stages.
Skipper Chipolina was denied a famous goal moments after the restart when Darren Randolph instinctively pawed away his close-range header from a corner.
That sparked Ireland into life and they forged ahead in the 49th minute. McGoldrick sped away from Jack Sergeant down the left and picked out Hendrick, who coolly slotted into Goldwin's bottom-left corner from 15 yards.
Shane Duffy headed wide from an inswinging free-kick in the closing stages as Ireland ultimately edged to the most slender of wins thanks to Hendrick's solitary moment of quality.
What does it mean? McCarthy desperately needs injection of goals
The new Ireland boss will have been well aware of their woes in front of goal before this game, but failure to comfortably beat a team made up largely of part-time players will have starkly demonstrated the scale of the task he faces. O'Neill's last four games in charge failed to produce a single goal and after such an insipid display against Gibraltar it is not hard to see why. What McCarthy would give to have a striker as prolific as his assistant, Robbie Keane, to call on.
Hendrick shows rare composure
In an Ireland performance riddled with silly mistakes and a distinct lack of quality, the Burnley midfielder kept his cool early in the second half to give his side all three points and help his new boss avoid an embarrassing start to his second spell in charge.
Maguire fails to take chance
Making his first competitive start for Ireland, Preston North End striker Sean Maguire failed to stake his claim for a regular place up front. He rarely threatened the hosts' backline and was eventually replaced by Harry Arter.
Key Opta Facts
16y 197d - Jeff Hendrick is the first Irish player to score for the national side under Mick McCarthy since Clinton Morrison netted against Russia in September 2002, 16 years and 197 days ago. Longevity.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 23, 2019
- Ireland have now won each of their three meetings with Gibraltar by an aggregate score of 12-0, with all three coming in European Championship qualifiers.
- Hendrick's strike ended a drought of 446 minutes without a goal in all competitions for Ireland, since Aiden O'Brien scored against Poland in September 2018.
- McCarthy has now won his first competitive match in charge of Ireland in both of his spells with the national side, having beaten Liechtenstein 5-0 in the opening match of his first stint in August 1996.
- Hendrick became the first Irish player to score for the national side under McCarthy since Clinton Morrison netted against Russia in September 2002, 16 years and 197 days ago.
Ireland continue their qualifying campaign with the visit of Georgia on Tuesday, while Gibraltar host Estonia in a friendly on the same day.
25 de abril 2019
|LeBron disputes reported rift with Lakers front office|
|Copa Libertadores Review: River Plate advance, Boca Juniors held|
|Kovac unsure about contentious penalty decision|
|Kerr calls Lillard´s game-winner against Thunder a ´good shot´|
|Griezmann important for future at Atletico – Simeone|
|Russell ´definitely´ wants to stay with Nets|
|Fernandinho to have scan on knee injury|
|Top prospect Guerrero called up by Blue Jays|
|Solskjaer agrees with Keane that United need ´right characters´|
|Emery not blaming Leno for Wolves loss|
|Guardiola ´likes to be critical´ of Man City derby hero Sane|
|Kruse bemoans ´ridiculous´ penalty in DFB-Pokal semi-final|
|Lazio condemn ´simplistic´ reporting of alleged racist incidents|
|Solskjaer: United not good enough to match City|
|Keane takes aim at Fred for ´cheating´ in Man United´s derby defeat|
|Kompany: Still all to play for in Premier League title race|
24 de abril 2019
|Rashford: We did not play like Manchester United|
|Arsenal can still secure top-four spot - Emery|
|Guardiola and Man City break records in derby win at Old Trafford|
|Kvitova eases through in Stuttgart, Istanbul seeds tumble|
|Manchester United 0 Manchester City 2: Silva & Sane send visitors back to summit|
|AC Milan 0 Lazio 1 (agg 0-1): Correa winner earns Inzaghi´s men revenge|
|Werder Bremen 2 Bayern Munich 3: Lewandowski double sends Kovac´s men into final|
|Wolves 3 Arsenal 1: Stunning first-half display hurts Gunners´ top-four hopes|
|Ferrer to face Nadal in Barcelona as Fognini withdraws|
|United States earn ODI status for first time|
|Bordalas wary of ´awesome´ Benzema|
|Atletico Madrid 3 Valencia 2: Late Correa stunner seals win as Barca´s title party is delayed|
|Keane on Pogba: I wouldn´t believe a word he says|
|De Villiers, Stoinis inspire in-form RCB to another win|
|Gayle & Russell headline Windies World Cup squad|
|Former Barcelona chief Rosell acquitted of money laundering|
|United v City: Darmian and Pereira in as Solskjaer wields axe|
|Mourinho: Some players might think I´m a b******|
|Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe? Who is Europe´s most prolific young goalscorer?|
|Steelers sign Roethlisberger to two-year contract extension|
|Frank Lampard charged with misconduct by FA|
|Zidane: Bale sale not required to sign Hazard|
|Player sacked after missing Panenka in shoot-out loss|
|FA welcomes anti-racism manifesto backed by Sterling|
|Ravens make Tucker highest-paid kicker in NFL|
|Nadal fights back to halt Mayer in Barcelona|
|Springbok De Jager sold on three-year Sale deal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Holders Kashima Antlers suffer first defeat|
|Alaphilippe defends Fleche Wallonne title in tight finish|
|Cowboys pick up Ezekiel Elliott´s fifth-year option|
|Champions Cup final quintet nominated for European Player of the Year|
|NFL Draft 2019: How does Kyler Murray compare to QBs taken first overall?|
|Pukki, Sharp and Abraham top PFA Championship Team of the Year|
|Mourinho recharged by rest but not planning Premier League return|
|Pro14 set for brotherly battle as Jerry Sexton joins Southern Kings|
|Sometimes things I want don´t happen – Zidane cagey over futures of Navas, Courtois|
|Hamilton desperate to improve on Baku struggles|
|Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi undergoes successful surgery|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton and Bottas seeking historic one-two - Azerbaijan GP in numbers|
|LaLiga is the primary goal – Zidane out to end Barca´s recent dominance next term|
|NRL Opta facts: Roosters hoping to address poor ANZAC Day record|
|Ulreich: Nubel should hold off on Bayern Munich move|
|Almiron a doubt for Copa America due to hamstring injury|
|I´m still a Manchester United fan - Blind hopeful of resurgence under Solskjaer|
|Golden Knights blast ´embarrassing´ penalty call in dramatic Sharks defeat|
|Rangnick lauds RB Leipzig´s unique rise|
|Turin to host ATP Finals from 2021 to 2025|
|Chelsea manager Sarri charged by FA|
|I was just waving goodbye to them - Lillard sends Thunder packing|
|Manchester United players will have no hiding place against City - Solskjaer|
|Ortiz will not replace Miller to fight Joshua|
|United v City: De Gea, Pogba and the Red Devils´ stars in need of a ´reality check´|
|United v City: Aguero ready to shine after Old Trafford absences|
|Ferguson convinced me to take up management – Milosevic´s road to Partizan|