Manager Martin O’Neill is set to unveil his extended Ireland squad, for the upcoming friendly international in Turkey, on Thursday afternoon. It is anticipated that there will be some new names following the retirement of Wes Hoolihan and Daryl Murphy coupled with the injury absence of Robbie Brady, James McCarthy and David McGoldrick. Injury doubts also surround Keiren Westwood and Callum O’Dowda. Certain Irish media sources suggest that U21 stars Declan Rice and Josh Cullen will be included in the squad which, while welcome in normal circumstance, could prove a blow to U21 Head Coach Noel King whose side have a competitive UEFA Qualifier against Azerbaijan on Tuesday the 27th March in Tallaght Stadium. The three day interval between the fixtures does provide hope that the pair, should they travel to Ankara, could link up with the U21 squad thereafter.
Our U15 side, with Head Coach Jason Donohue at the helm, is set to take on Cyprus in two friendly contests this week. Oriel Park will host the first meeting at 7pm on Tuesday evening with the second encounter set for the AUL Complex on Thursday afternoon at 1pm.
Shane Duffy was in his regular centre back position for Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion when they defeated visitors Arsenal by two goals to one in the Premier League this afternoon. Also in action were former U21 defenders Daragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams who both started for current League One leaders Blackburn Rovers who were held to a two all draw by third place Wigan Athletic at Ewood Park. In charge of the ‘Latics’ of course is former Sligo Rovers manager Paul Cook and while trailing the leaders by six points, his side do have four matches in hand. The fixture backlog arises from their FA Cup exploits including the fifth round defeat of Manchester City and they will host Southampton in the quarter-finals in two weeks time.
Burnley had Stephen Ward and Jeff Hendrick in their starting eleven with Kevin Long, on the bench for the early Premier League contest with Everton, who had Seamus Coleman in their starting eleven at Turf Moor. The ‘Clarets’ recovered from a half time deficit to secure a deserved two one victory.Declan Rice started for West Ham United with Josh Cullen on the bench as they crashed to a four one defeat at Swansea City while James McClean was a late substitute for West Bromwich Albion in their one nil defeat at Watford. Shane Long was also a late substitute for Southampton who played out a scoreless draw with visitors Stoke City. Ciaran Clark is on the Newcastle United bench in the late kick-off at Liverpool.
Sean Maguire, having returned to training with Preston North End after a four month absence, was introduced from the bench on sixty five minutes and scored twice to secure a three one victory for his side at Bolton Wanderers. Both Greg Cunningham and Alan Browne also started for the ‘Lilywhites’. Cyrus Christie was on the Fulham bench for their two one success at Derby County who were skippered by Richard Keogh. The Den hosted the one allo draw between Millwall and Sunderland, who included John O’Shea and Aiden McGeady in their starting eleven.
Goalkeeper Darren Randolph was in Championship action on Friday evening when his Middlesbrough defeated visitors Leeds United by three goals to nil at the Riverside Stadium. Midfielder Eunan O’Kane started for the visitors but was replaced on sixty eight minutes while one time Ireland target, and still eligible, Patrick Bamford scored his first senior hat-trick for the victors.
Our Under 16 international side went down to an emphatic four nil defeat by hosts Hungary in Budapest on Thursday morning. This disappointing result follows their three two defeat at the same venue on Tuesday afternoon.
Republic of Ireland: Aaron Davis; Alex Dunne, Timi Sobowale (Cian Kelly 63), Conor Power (Luke Turner 63), James Furlong; Seamas Keogh, Matt Healy; Adam Lennon (Patrick Moore 53), Kian Leavy (Troy Parrott 41), Conor Carty (Sean Kennedy 53); Matt Everitt.