Damien Duff and Richie Sadlier were at odds over the tennis ball protest during the first half of the Republic of Ireland's 1-0 win over Georgia.

Thirty-three minutes into the match at Lansdowne Road, fans threw tennis balls onto the pitch - after a four-minute delay Conor Hourihane curled home Ireland's winning goal from a free-kick.

As reported in the run-up to the game, fans planned to protest recent developments in the FAI, where John Delaney has stepped down as chief executive for a newly created executive vice-president position in the wake of revelations around a 'bridging loan' he paid to the FAI

At half-time Richie Sadlier supported the fans' right to make their anger known to the powers that be.

"These fans are angry and disillusioned and for very legitimate reasons and they were feeling this way long before Mick McCarthy took the job.

"They feel if there is no meaningful change at executive level of how the FAI does its business they will continue to feel this way long after Mick leaves. We already know he is going.

"It is a sign of how upset they are, how disgruntled they are, that they would show up here and do that but it is clear why they do it. They could do it in their back garden tomorrow but no one would see it," continued Sadlier.

Former Ireland winger Duff disagreed, stating fans should not jeopardise the team's performance - even if he agreed with their point. Highlighting how Georgia's best first-half chance came during the added time that resulted from the tennis ball protest.

"I think it is ridiculous," said Duff. "I think where [Georgia] nearly scored is three minutes in, there were four minutes added on and that was because of the tennis balls.

"For me Georgia nearly scored because of our CEO. The build-up tonight, for the beautiful game at Lansdowne Road, was not about football, it was about John Delaney.

"Utter nonsense the fans throwing them on for me. They can protest somewhere else.

"The time was added on because of John Delaney and the tennis balls."

The debate continued after full-time, with Duff expressing his frustration with Delaney's ability to dominate the news cycle.

"I don't think we should be talking about him. I follow sport and I have no idea who the CEO of the IRFU is."

Sadlier reiterated his belief that fans have every right to be 'disillusioned' after the FAI's reaction to the revelations about the bridging loan and the fact the FAI had been paying Delaney's rent for a number of years.

"We had the Taoiseach asking for clarity, we have SIPTU weighing in on behalf of their members... The board has not explained why their solution to a cashflow problem was to take a loan from an employee."

Duff added: "I agree we need change and it is time to freshen it up."