Republic of Ireland governed by VAR for first time in Euro 2020 Slovakia play-off

Pavel Hapal, head coach of Slovakia, shakes hands with Mick McCarthy. Their sides meet in Bratislava on March 26
Andy Watters

VAR (Video Assistant Referee) will be used for the first time in a Republic of Ireland game when the Boys in Green meet Slovakia in next month's ‘Path B' Euro 2020 qualification semi-final against Slovakia.

Republic manager Mick McCarthy has been critical of how the technology is implemented in the Premier League but insists he is not “completely against” the system. He has his fingers crossed that VAR will favour the Republic in Bratislava on March 26 and help send his side through to a play-off final with the winners of Bosnia v Northern Ireland on March 31.

“I'm hoping (the headlines) say VAR helped us,” said McCarthy.

“I hope they say that Mick McCarthy is very lucky because he's been giving VAR stick for all this year and then it helped him qualify with two great decisions, it got Ireland through.”

McCarthy conceded that VAR had resulted in getting some debatable decisions correct but, like many managers, players and fans, he also has reservations about how the system is being used.

“I'm not completely against VAR, just how it's been used at the moment,” he said.

“I've seen all different ways they might be doing it, the lines, if they are offside it might not be a toenail but half-a-foot.

“I do think there has been some great decisions by it and made it right and the right team should win if the decision is right.

“We might not have been in this position (of having to qualify through the play-offs) because in Switzerland I think one of their lads might have been offside but equally we might have had a penalty because there was a handball.

“It is what it is. It's there, I can't do anything about it.

“I'm not too sure David McGoldrick will be too happy that it's there as it disallowed two perfectly good goals, certainly one at Tottenham.

“But I don't give VAR that much consideration that I would be thinking about it as soon as the ball goes in the net. I'm seeing managers now telling players to hold on and calm down until VAR. But we'll wait and see what I do. Let's hope we put it in the net.”

McCarthy regards his side's most recent performance – the 1-1 draw with Denmark at the Aviva back in November – as the best of his second spell as manager. That was his 10th game in charge but all the momentum from that display has long since evaporated as he prepares for his 11th. McCarthy says that is always the case in international football.

“How can I keep the momentum going when we have a game in November and then one in March?” he asked.

“How is it possible to keep that going? I could of course have put five or six debutantes in and all the young kids (against Denmark) and that would really help momentum, not.

“Or go with what we have got and pretty much know what is expected, know what to do and how to do it.

“We're all disappointed with not going through but we're all looking forward to the next game. That's about all the momentum we can muster. How else can it be done? It's impossible.”

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