Manager Stephen Kenny and his Republic of Ireland charges suffered bitter disappointment in Bratislava this evening when they exited the delayed EURO 2020 Championship following a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat against Slovakia. The match finished scoreless after extra-time with both sides failing to convert some excellent chances.
In the immediate aftermath, this evening’s exit from EURO 2020 is quite a bitter pill to swallow but Ireland showed promising signs of the changed footballing culture favoured by new manager Kenny and with more time to develop his principles we look forward to a more aesthetic and successful style of football.
While the hosts had marginally the greater percentage of possession, they offered very little threat with our central defensive duo of Shane Duffy and John Egan significantly improved from the Europa League outings in September. Darren Randolph made one excellent first half save and Duffy made a magnificent second half goal line block but that was just about all the threat offered by Slovakia.
Our ball retention and passing was much improved although there were a few lapses in accuracy and concentration but overall the signs are promising. With more preparation time we can anticipate much further progression and greater fluidity.
The great majority of the players contributed positively with David McGoldrick the standout performer. We created a number of scoring opportunities but fortune did not favour us this evening. Alan Browne, who replaced the injured James McCarthy on sixty minutes, hit the post and had another effort saved by the goalkeeper while Conor Hourihane really should have scored following another fine passage of play.
Given the exhausting efforts made this evening we are likely to see a number of changes for Sunday afternoon’s Nations League engagement with Wales in the Aviva Stadium. Despite the obvious disappointment of this evening we should look forward to a more rewarding future.
Team: Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy(c), John Egan, Enda Stevens; James McCarthy, Conor Hourihane; Callum Robinson, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean; David McGoldrick.
Robbie Brady for McClean 60′
Alan Browne for McCarthy 60′
Callum O’Dowda for Robinson 99′
Shane Long for McGoldrick 112′