The Republic of Ireland have missed out on the chance to play in Dublin at the Euro 2020 finals following a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat in Slovakia.
Ireland bowed out of the play-offs after a goalless extra-time draw in Bratislava further highlighting their problems in front of goal since the retirement of record scorer Robbie Keane four years ago.
In the intervening period, their 27 competitive matches have yielded just 22 goals with central defender Shane Duffy and winger James McClean contributing four each.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the men who could address a burning issue.
McGoldrick’s 15 goals were instrumental in Sheffield United’s drive for promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 2018-19 season, although he has found them harder to come by in the top flight. He scored his first – and so far only – goal for Ireland against Switzerland in September last year and although he may not be a traditional centre-forward, his speed of thought and invention suggest he can be a threat.
Brighton’s 20-year-old frontman Connolly is a man who head coach Stephen Kenny knows well from their time together with the under-21s. He is yet to open his account in his four senior appearances to date, but having burst on to the Premier League scene with a double against Tottenham last season, his potential is clear.
Eyebrows were raised when Kenny threw another of his under-21s graduates straight into the mix in September’s Nations League fixtures, and the 19-year-old endured a tough start to senior international football. However, he scored an eye-catching hat-trick for Norwich in a 4-2 FA Cup victory at Preston in January and is up and running in the Sky Bet Championship this season.
McClean established himself as an international match-winner during the last World Cup qualification campaign, scoring the only goal in 1-0 wins in both Austria and Wales. However, his influence has waned since and he will hope to rediscover that kind of form once again to push for a regular starting berth.
Thursday night marked five years to the day since Long had come off the bench to fire Ireland to a 1-0 victory over world champions Germany. It was also a day short of four years since he last struck for his country, and that is a hugely-disappointing statistic for a man who is capable of much better.
West Brom frontman Robinson’s Premier League double in a 3-3 draw with Chelsea on September 26 served as a timely reminder of what he can do. However, his strike in a 3-1 friendly victory over New Zealand in November last year remains his only success for Ireland to date.
A midfielder with an eye for goal, Browne was desperately unfortunate not to win it for his side in Bratislava after he was denied by both goalkeeper Marek Rodak and the woodwork before seeing his effort in the shoot-out saved. Injuries have severely limited opportunities for a man who registered for the first time for Ireland against Bulgaria in September last year.
Shane Duffy heads home a 93rd minute equaliser to earn Ireland a draw in Bulgaria
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 3, 2020
The fact that no Irish player has scored more goals in competitive matches than central defender Duffy in the last four years or so tells its own story. A towering presence from set-pieces, he has developing a knack of coming up with something when all else fails.