NewUEFA First Qualifying Round draws…15/06/2021

The draws for the first qualifying rounds of  both the Europa Champions League and the new Europa Conference League took place at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon  this Tuesday morning and afternoon.

In the UEFA Champions League, Airtricity League Champions Shamrock Rovers have been drawn against SK Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia with the first leg away on the 6th July and the second leg in Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday the 13th July.

Northern Ireland champions Linfield travel to FK Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania in the first leg while Welsh Champions Connah’s Quay Nomads will play their first leg at home against Alashkert of Armenia.

In the UEFA Conference League both Bohemian and Sligo Rovers have been drawn against Icelandic opposition in St Jarnan and FH Hafnarfjordur with the first legs away on Thursday the 8th July and the second legs at home on Thursday the 15th July.  Dundalk have been drawn against Welsh side Newtown AFC and will play the first leg at home before travelling to Wales for the second leg.

Northern Irish side Coleraine travel to face FK Velez of Bosnia & Herzegovina in their first leag while the other Northern Ireland representatives Glentoran and Larne FC  face Welsh opposition in The New Saints and Bala Town respectively.


NewAirtricity League resumes following break…12/06/2021

Following the mid-season break, the Airtricity League Premier Division resumed with three contests played this Friday evening. Derry City welcomed Bohemian to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium where the sides played out a one all draw while Dundalk, despite taking the lead, suffered a surprise three one defeat by visitors Waterford in Oriel Park. Shamrock Rovers also took a very early lead but were pegged back by visitors Finn Harps with a second half goal in Tallaght Stadium.

The two remaining Series 15 contests took place on Saturday evening with Longford Town going down to a three one defeat by visitors St Patrick’s Athletic while Sligo Rovers suffered a two one defeat by Drogheda United  in the Showgrounds.

………………………………    P    W   D   L    F      A    G/D    Pts
Shamrock Rovers         15    9    4    2    22    11     11      31
Sligo Rovers                   15    9    4    2    21    10    11      31
St Patricks Athletic       15    8    4    3    23    15      8      28
Drogheda United          15    7    4    4     29   14     15      25

Bohemian                       15    6    3     6   24    16      8       21
Finn Harps                     15    5    4     6    13   19     -6       19
Derry City                       15    4    6     5    15    19    -4       18
Dundalk                         15     4    5     6    19    22    -3       17
Waterford                      15    3    0   12      9   31   -22         9
Longford Town             15     1    4  10    10   28   -18         7


There was a full programme of Airtricity League First Division matches played on Friday evening. Bray Wanderers suffered a four one defeat by leaders Shelbourne in the Carlisle Grounds.  Cork City went down to a two nil defeat by visitors Cabinteely in Turners Cross. Galway United  overcame visitors Athlone Town by two goals to one in Eamonn Deacy Park. UCD were surprise losers to Cobh Ramblers who prevailed by two goals to one at The Bowl. Bottom side Wexford also suffered  a two one defeat by  newcomers Treaty United in Ferrycarrig Park.

………………………        P    W   D   L    F     A    G/D    Pts
Shelbourne               11   8    3    0   26    10    16      27
UCD                            11   5    4    2   26    14    12      19
Treaty United          11    5    4    2   15    11      4      19
Cabinteely                11    6    0    5   12    18     -6      18
Athlone Town         11    5     1    5   17    14      3      16
Galway United        11    4    4    3    16    14      2      16
Bray Wanderers      11   3    5     3    12    13    -1      14
Cobh Ramblers        11   3    2     6    10    19    -9      11
Cork City                   11   2    3     6    10    12    -2        9
Wexford                   11    1    0   10      5    24  -19        3

NewSenior Women face Iceland…11/06/2021

Our Republic of Ireland Senior Women went down to a three two defeat by Iceland in a friendly international played in a very windy Reykjavik early on Friday evening. The hosts, with the advantage of the nigh on gale force wind took a three goal advantage into the half-time break. While conditions were  a significant factor, Ireland did not do themselves any favours with the paucity of their first half display,  described by analyst Alan Cawley as the worst of the Vera Pauw managerial reign. There was an  improved second half showing with striker Heather Payne scoring four minutes after the resumption. Despite the advantage of the conditions, Ireland did not pressurise their host sufficiently  with the second goal from half-time substitute Amber Barrett coming in the second minute of added time.

The sides are set to meet again at the same venue at 6pm on Tuesday next with the RTE Player again providing a live broadcast.

Team: Grace Moloney; Niamh Fahey, Diane Caldwell, Louise Quinn; Jamie Finn, Megan Connolly, Niamh Farrelly, Denise O’Sullivan, Katie McCabe(c); Aoife Colvill, Heather Payne
Amber Barrett for Colvill 46′
Eabha O’Mahoney for Farrelly 46′

Manager Vera Pauw has selected a twenty five player squad for the contests.

Goalkeepers: Eve Badana (DLR Waves), Courtney Brosnan (Unattached), Grace Moloney (Reading)
Defenders: Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Keeva Keenan (Glasgow Celtic), Aine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Eabha O’Mahoney (Cork City), Claire O’Riordan (MSV Duisberg), Louise Quinn (Fiorentina), Claire Walsh (Peamount United)
Midfielders: Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Roma McLaughlin (Connecticut Fusion), Ellen Molloy (Wexford), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne)
Forwards: Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Aoife Colvill (Glasgow City), Rianna Jarrett (Unattached), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne), Heather Payne (Florida State University) 

Ireland draw with Hungary in Budapest this evening…08/06/2021


Ireland played out a scoreless draw with Hungary in a friendly international played in Budapest this Tuesday evening to bring a close to a long and largely disappointing season. Manager Stephen Kenny made just two changes to his starting eleven from the side which faced Andorra on Thursday last with Shane Duffy and Adam Idah replacing James Collins and Ronan Curtis in a revised 3-4-1-2 formation. While not attaining any great heights, this evening’s contest did provide a much better performance than last week in Andorra.  While there were a couple of lapses in early concentration, the first half for the most part, provided a steady defensive performance with Gavin Bazunu required to make just one excellent save. Ireland might well have taken an early lead when John Egan‘s header from a splendid Josh Cullen free kick thudded off the crossbar. Stephen Kenny had indicated  that Caoimhin Kelleher would make his senior international debut and he was introduced for the second half. In a more open half, Kelleher was called upon to make a number of excellent saves and the performances of both young goalkeepers augurs well for the future. The back three for the most part stayed quite resolute with Shane Duffy looking more composed and accurate with his distribution. Young Dara O’Shea, on the left of the defensive trio, was unusually erratic with his distribution but for the most part defended solidly. The wide midfielders Matt Doherty and James McClean gave contrasting performances  with the Derry man  quite active on the left flank while the Dubliner was quite quiet until the latter stages when he did make a couple of forward sorties. Josh Cullen and Conor Hourihane patrolled the central area with the RSC Anderlecht man much more prominent. The zestful Jason Knight commenced in a central role supporting the front duo of Adam Idah and Troy Parrott but all three had very little with which to operate, with Parrott dropping particularly deep to seek possession of the ball. Parrott did show a deal of confidence and was the subject  of some severe challenges. Idah worked tirelessly up front but, save for one shot on target, was unable to make any significant inroads. Midfielders Daryl Horgan and Jayson Molumby were introduced on fifty seven minutes for Parrott and the ineffective Hourihane with the Galway man again having quite an impact while Molumby provided a more abrasive presence. There were late cameo’s  for Ryan Manning, James Collins and debutant Chiedozie Ogbene who almost had a dream start when he dashed clear of the defence on to a Horgan pass but his left foot shot hit the side netting.  While there remains much work to be done throughout all aspects of the team, Stephen Kenny will have garnered further knowledge of the players available to him on this particular training camp.

Gavin Bazunu; Shane Duffy, John Egan(c), Dara O’Shea; Matt Doherty, Josh Cullen, Conor Hourihane, James McClean; Jason Knight; Adam Idah, Troy Parrott
Caoimhin Kelleher for Bazunu 46′
Daryl Horgan for Parrott 57′
Jayson Molumby for Hourihane 57′
Ryan Manning for McClean 84′
James Collins for Idah 88′
Chiedozie Ogbene for Knight 88′ 

Stephen Kenny
 secured his first victory as Republic of Ireland senior manager at the twelfth attempt with a four one victory over Andorra this Thursday afternoon. The success will come as welcome relief to Kenny and he will hope be the springboard to positive upward progression. However welcome, this afternoon’s performance was far from complete and left quite a lot to be desired.  The first half was a quite tedious affair with little cohesion while the all too frequent launching of a long ball was very reminiscent of times past and the style which Stephen Kenny is seeking to escape from. Ireland did have one gilt edged scoring opportunity in the half when Jason Knight‘s fine cross was badly headed wide by James Collins. The second half did start on a brighter note but potential calamity reared it’s ugly head when the hosts scored following a free kick on 52 minutes with scorer Mark Vales left entirely unmarked some six yards out to head a simple goal.  However Ireland did rally led by teenager Troy Parrott who scored  an excellent individual goal, his first at senior international level, just four minutes later.  Parrott continued to lead the assault and  a minute later created an excellent opportunity which was squandered by Ronan Curtis.  The young Dubliner was not dismayed by the miss and two minutes later he showed his mettle by powering home a header to give Ireland the lead. Thereafter the contest swung very much in Ireland’s favour with the part-time hosts struggling to maintain their earlier energy and pace. The introduction of Daryl Horgan and Adam Idah brought greater pace to the attack with the Galway man being particularly effective. It was he who sped down the left and delivered  an excellent cross which enabled Jason Knight to score his first Ireland senior goal and the roles were reversed five minutes later with Knight providing the cross for Horgan to become the third Irish player to break his international scoring duck. The final ten minutes also saw the introduction of Jamie McGrath for his senior international debut. Whilst Stephen Kenny will be satisfied with the victory, he must be concerned at the performance levels of several players. He now faces the task of finding solutions with the fixture against  EURO 2020 bound Hungary in Budapest on Tuesday next a much more daunting task than today’s outing in Andorra.

Team: Gavin Bazunu; Matt Doherty, Dara O’Shea, John Egan, James McClean; Jason Knight, Josh Cullen, Conor Hourihane; Troy Parrott, James Collins, Ronan Curtis
Daryl Horgan for Curtis 66′
Adam Idah for Collins 66′
Jamie McGrath for Parrott 82′
Shane Duffy for O’Shea 87′
Ryan Manning  for McClean 87′
Harry Arter for Hourihane 87′

U21s lose to Denmark on Saturday afternoon…05/06/2021


Our Republic of Ireland U21 side went down to a one nil defeat by Denmark in the third and final contest of their summer training camp in Marbella, Spain this Saturday afternoon. Head Coach Jim Crawford made a number of changes to his team selection giving players an opportunity to catch the eye.  However, very few players availed of the opportunity in a lack lustre and lethargic performance. Denmark were much better in all aspects of the  game and might easily have won by a significantly greater score. One feeble shot from distance was the sum total of our attacking threat.


Daniel Rose;  Andy Lyons, Oisin McEntee, Mark McGuinness, Will Ferry;  Conor Coventry (c), Ryan Johansson; Alex Gilbert, Conor Noss, Tyreik Wright; Joshua Kayode 

Festy Ebosele for Lyons 46′
Bosun Lawal for Noss 46′
Gavin Kilkenny for Wright  65′
Louie Watson for Gilbert  80′
Conor Grant for Kayode 82′
Shane Flynn for Ferry 87′

The opening 2023 European Championship Group F qualifying fixture between Luxemburg and Montenegro took place in Esch-sur-Alzette on Friday evening with the visitors securing a late two one victory after the hosts had been reduced to ten men on 54 minutes. Luxembourg will travel to face Sweden in Falkenberg on Tuesday next.

Head Coach Jim Crawford made six changes from the starting eleven which started against Switzerland on Sunday when we faced  Australia at noon this Wednesday in our second U21 friendly international.  Australia  selected from their Under 23 Olympic Games squad and were considerably older than the Ireland side. Once again we started rather slowly but in a first half of few chances we succeeded in containing a lively and physical  Australia. Ireland took the lead  on 57 minutes through an own goal which would almost certainly been converted by Joshua Kayode were  it not for a desperate lunge by an Australian defender. The opposition levelled matters after 73 minutes with an excellent strike but the opportunity was afforded to the attacker by a careless piece of play by an Irish player in midfield.  While the second half was largely even, Ireland did offer a greater attacking threat and this was emphasised in the 90th minute when substitute Tyreik Wright showed devastating pace down the left flank before delivering a peach of a cross which fellow substitute Ross Tierney headed powerfully to the net for the winning goal. Tierney had only joined the fray moments beforehand and the goal was his first touch. While there were some fine passages of play from Ireland, the side is still very much in the development stage and greater composure and fluidity will be required for the European Championship Qualifying campaign.  We will complete this training camp with a contest against Denmark at 5pm on Saturday afternoon.  

Brian Maher;  Andy Lyons, Oisin McEntee, Mark McGuinness, Luca Connell; Gavin Kilkenny, Conor Noss,  Conor Coventry (c),  Louie Watson, Will Ferry;  Jonathan Afolabi 

Ryan Johansson for Kilkenny 62′
Tyreik Wright for Watson  62′
Joshua Kayode for Jonathan Afolabi  75′
Alex Gilbert for Noss 75′
Ross Tierney for Connell 88′

Jim Crawford has had to make another alteration to his U21 squad following  the injury withdrawal of  Bohemian midfielder Dawson Devoy, who has been replaced by fellow Bohemian player Ross Tierney.
Our U21 side went down to a two nil defeat by Switzerland in the first of three friendly internationals being played in Marbella this week. Head Coach Jim Crawford will have learned a little bit more about this group of players from this encounter as he prepares for the commencement of the European Championship Qualifiers in September. A defensive lapse cost Ireland the opening goal on 12 minutes while for the remainder of the first half they matched  their opponents. Ireland retained decent possession and passed quite accurately but save for a couple of half chances their ball retention and distribution was confined in large part to their own half. There were some fine performances with towering Arsenal centre back Mark McGuinness being quite dominant while West Ham United midfielder Conor Coventry, who captained the side, was prominent in the holding midfield role. Aston Villa winger Tyreik Wright  also caught the eye down the left flank.

Brian Maher;  Festy Ebosele, Oisin McEntee, Mark McGuinness, Lewis Richards; Conor Coventry (c), Ryan Johansson;  Louie Watson, Conor Grant, Tyreik Wright; Joshua Kayode

Conor Noss for Johansson 46′
Gavin Kilkenny for Richards 57′
Will Ferry for Grant 57′
Jonathan Afolabi for Kayode 57′
Alex Gilbert for Watson 71′
Luca Connell for Coventry 71′
Shane Flynn for Ebosele 77′


Jim Crawford
has had to make two changes to his U21 squad announced on Tuesday following the withdrawal of  Ciaran Brennan (Illness) and John Joe Finn Benoa (Exams). They have been replaced by Bosun Lawal (Watford) and Anselmo Garcia McNulty (Wolfsburg)


Head Coach Jim Crawford has named  a 26 player squad for the upcoming trio of U21 friendly internationals to be played in Marbella, Spain.

Sunday 30 May          Switzerland       11.00   (Live Premier Sports 1/FreeSports)
Wednesday 2 June    Australia             12.00  (Live Premier Sports 1/FreeSports)
Saturday 5 June         Denmark            17.00


Goalkeepers:  Sam Blair (Norwich City),  Brian Maher (Bray Wanderers),  Dan Rose (Schalke 04)

Defenders: Ciaran Brennan (Sheffield Wednesday), Festy Ebosele Derby County), Shane Flynn (Leicester City), Andy Lyons (Bohemian), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal), Lewis Richards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Sean Roughan (Lincoln City)

Midfielders: John Joe Finn Benoa (Getafe),  Luca Connell (Glasgow Celtic), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemian), Alex Gilbert (Brentford), Conor Grant (Rochdale), Ryan Johansson (Sevilla), Conor Noss (Borussia Monchengladbach),  Louie Watson (Derby County)

Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Glasgow Celtic), Will Ferry (Southampton), Joshua Kayode (Rotherham United), Gavin Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth), Colm Whelan (UCD), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa)


Play-Off weekend in England…31/05/2021

The trio of promotion play-offs was completed at Wembley Stadium on Monday afternoon with the League Two meeting of Morecambe and Newport County which was won by Morecambe with a penalty in the second period of extra-time.  Newport County included captain Alan Sheehan and Padraig Amond in their starting eleven while the victors had Liam McAlinden in their starting eleven with John O’Sullivan joining from the substitute bench for the extra-time period. It was O’Sullivan who was fouled for the penalty kick which proved  the only goal and winner.

The League One play-off final took place at Wembley Stadium
on Sunday afternoon and saw Blackpool recover from the concession of an own goal after just 50 seconds to defeat Lincoln City by two goals to one.  Anthony Scully was an 80th minute substitute for the ‘Imps’. 

The Championship play-off final took place at Wembley Stadium this Saturday afternoon and saw Brentford defeat Swansea City by two goals to nil to earn promotion to the Premier League. Aston Villa loanee Conor Hourihane started for the defeated ‘Swans’ but was withdrawn on 63 minutes while Ryan Manning was an unused  substitute.

Airtricity League action before the break…29/05/2021

Before the mid-season break there were three Airtricity League Premier Division matches played on Friday with the ‘North West Derby’ meeting of Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers setting the ball rolling at 5.45pm. The visitors emerged victorious by two goals to one despite playing the final 32 minutes with ten men following  the dismissal of Parkes. Drogheda United went down to a two one defeat by visitors Derry City in Head in the Game Park while at the same time, St Patrick’s Athletic suffered a surprise two nil defeat by visitors Dundalk in Richmond Park. 

Bohemian continued their upward march with a comfortable three nil victory over  bottom side Waterford in Dalymount Park this Saturday afternoon while at the same time Shamrock Rovers scored the only goal in the fifth minute of added time to defeat their distraught hosts Longford Town in Bishopsgate.

…………………………………..P    W   D   L    F     A    G/D    Pts
Sligo Rovers                    14    9    4    1    20     8     12      31
Shamrock Rovers          14    9    3    2    21    10    11      30
St Patricks Athletic        14    7    4    3    20    14      6      25
Drogheda United           14    6    4     4   27    13    14      22
Bohemian                       14    6    2     6   23    15      8       20
Finn Harps                     14    5    3     6    12   18     -6       18
Dundalk                          14    4    5     5    18    19    -1       17
Derry City                       14     4    5     5    14    18    -4      17
Longford Town              14     1    4     9      9   25   -16        7
Waterford                       14     2    0   12      6   30   -24         6.

The second set of Airtricity League First Division matches took place this Friday evening with third place Athlone Town going down to a three two home defeat by second place UCD. Newcomers Treaty United climbed to fourth place with a two nil victory over Markets Field visitors Bray Wanderers. Bottom side Wexford secured their first points of the season with a surprise two nil victory over hosts Cabinteely in  Stradbrook while the ‘Cork Derby’ went the way of  hosts Cobh Ramblers with the only goal against Cork City in St Colman’s Park. Leaders Shelbourne crushed Galway United by four goals to nil in Tolka Park.

………………………        P    W   D   L    F     A    G/D    Pts
Shelbourne               10   7    3    0   22     9     13      24
UCD                            10   5    4    1   25    12    13      19
Athlone Town          10   5    1    4   16    12      4      16
Treaty United          10   4    4     2   13    10      3      16
Cabinteely                10   5    0     5   10    18    -8      15
Bray Wanderers     10   3    5     2    11      9     2      14
Galway United        10   3    4     3    14    13     1      13
Cork City                  10   2    3     5    10    10     –         9
Cobh Ramblers       10   2    2     6      8   18   -10        8
Wexford                   10   1    0     9      4   22   -18        3