Ireland secured a comfortable three one victory over New Zealand in this Thursday evening’s friendly international played in front of a sparse Aviva Stadium attendance. While there were some interesting aspects to the match and some fine individual performances, it is very unlikely that any of the participants will have made sufficient impression to enter the starting eleven equation for Monday night’s crucial contest with Denmark.
Foremost amongst the performances was that of holding midfielder Josh Cullen who looks ready to embrace the role currently the remit of Glenn Whelan. There were interesting performances from debutant Lee O’Connor and fellow full back Derrick Williams while Jack Byrne and Alan Browne provided some neat but irregular touches. Captain Robbie Brady was deployed on the right side of the attacking trio with Sean Maguire on the left, which surprised as both prefer and operate for their clubs on the opposite flanks. In Brady‘s case, perhaps an audition for that slot on Monday evening.
Ireland opened brightly and dominated early proceedings and it came as quite a shock when the visitors took the lead on thirty minutes through debutant Callum McCowatt with a well crafted goal. Ireland maintained their composure and equalised on the stroke of half-time with a powerful Derrick Williams header from a Robbie Brady corner, the Waterford man’s first goal for his country. Seven minutes into the second period Sean Maguire also scored his first international goal with a stunning strike following a pass from Troy Parrott. The hat-trick of debut goals was completed on 75 minutes when substitute Callum Robinson powered home a header following a delicious cross from Lee O’Connor.
Ireland made six second half substitutions, the first of them after 56 minutes being somewhat surprising as Callum O’Dowda replaced Derrick Williams in the left back position. The other substitutions were all fairly normal like for like changes.
Team: Kieran O’Hara; Lee O’Connor, Kevin Long, Ciaran Clark, Derrick Williams; Alan Browne, Josh Cullen, Jack Byrne; Robbie Brady (C), Troy Parrott, Sean Maguire.
Callum O’Dowda for Williams 56′
Alan Judge for Byrne 63′
Callum Robinson for Parrott 63′
Conor Hourihane for Browne 66′
Mark Travers for O’Hara 66′
James Collins for Maguire 73′