Martin O'Neill needs to find consistent Republic of Ireland starting XI

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The Republic of Ireland suffered a setback in their quest to qualify for Euro 2016 as they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Scotland.

Gordon Strachan will be the happier of the two managers, with Ireland's Martin O'Neill conceding that they had lost ground in the race for qualification.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game O'Neill said: “Scotland will be delighted to get out of here with something but there is still a distance to go, we have not given this up by a long way.”

In truth, Ireland were by far the better team in the first half. Buoyed by the fantastic crowd at Dublin's Aviva Stadium the Irish players fought hard and played a good brand of football.

Ireland were dominant throughout and will not have wanted the half time whistle to blow when it did as they were in the ascendancy and looked to score another goal.

The second half, however, turned the tide as Scotland started excellently and secured their equaliser from Shaun Maloney at the beginning of the half.

As the goal was scored it seemed to take the wind out of the Irish sails. In the end the hosts pushed and looked to grab a last minute winner with O'Neill bringing on Robbie Keane, James McClean and Shane Long for some added firepower but it was an unsuccessful plan. 

This result could have catastrophic effects on the chances of qualification for the Republic of Ireland. There are extremely difficult games on the horizon with Germany and group leaders Poland still to play.

O'Neill's men will have difficult times ahead yet arguably they can restore some momentum with a win against a weak Gibraltar side in September. Following that Ireland face Georgia at home in the Aviva Stadium in a game which quite simply is a must win in order to have any chance of qualifying.

The home side were arguably unlucky to concede as the ball hit off John O'Shea's back and past the onlooking goalkeeper Shay Given, who was helpless. Scotland will feel justice was served as Ireland's Jonathan Walters was in an offside position for his goal.

Ireland are now left in the precarious position of being two points adrift of Scotland - who lie in third position in group D and three points off leaders, Poland.

Ireland can, however, hold their heads up high as they dominated the game in the first half and only for a momentary lapse in concentration after the break did they concede.

Arguably O'Neill is still tinkering with his first team squad and it would appear that the Irish manager is still not one hundred percent convinced of his starting eleven. He will have to address this problem come the next round of games in the European Qualifiers.

Who would be in your starting Irish XI? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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