Airtricity League weekend action…03/04/2021


There were two Airtricity League Premier Division contests played  on Friday with Longford Town going down to a one nil defeat by  Sligo Rovers in a quite dismal contest at Bishopgate while Shamrock Rovers overcame Dundalk by two goals to one in Tallaght Stadium.

The remaining three contests took place on Saturday evening with Bohemian losing to the only goal from visitors St Patrick’s Athletic in Dalymount Park, Derry City suffering a home two one defeat by Waterford and Drogheda United playing out a one all draw with visitors Finn Harps at Head in the Game Park.

There were four Airtricity League First Division fixtures completed this Friday evening with Athlone Town defeating visitors Galway United by three goals to one, Cabinteely scoring the only goal to overcome Cork City at Stradbrook, Shelbourne and Bray Wanderers sharing six goals in Tolka Park and newcomers Treaty United  securing their first success with a one nil victory over visitors Wexford.

The match between Cobh Ramblers and UCD at St Colman’s Park on Saturday evening ended in a four nil victory for the visiting ‘Students’.

Good Friday Championship action…02/04/2021

AFC Bournemouth defeated Middlesbrough by three goals to one in the Championship on Good Friday afternoon. Southampton loanee Shane Long was an 85th minute substitute fir the ‘Cherries’ while Mark Travers was unused in the substitute bench. Bristol City went down to a two nil defeat by Stoke City at Ashton Gate where James McClean was an unused substitute. Cardiff City suffered a one nil defeat by visitors Nottingham Forest who included Cyrus Christie in their starting eleven. Jason Knight was a 62nd minute substitute for Derby County who defeated visitors Luton Town by two goals to nil. James Collins was a 70th minute substitute for the ‘Hatters’ while Louie Watson was unused on the ‘Rams’ bench. Preston North End named Sean Maguire and Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Jayson Molumby on their substitute bench for the visit of current leaders Norwich City who included teenage centre back Andrew Omobamidele in their starting eleven. Both were introduced during the second half as the ‘Lilywhites’ scored a very late equaliser for a one all draw. Daryl Horgan was a very late substitute for Wycombe Wanderers who defeated visitors Blackburn Rovers and Darragh Lenihan by one goal to nil. Scott Hogan was an 82nd minute substitute for Birmingham City and scored  the added time penalty which secured a one nil victory over visitors Swansea City for whom Conor Hourihane and Ryan Manning were unused  substitutes.

League One promotion chasers Peterborough United welcomed back injury victim Jack Taylor as a 62nd minute substitute as they scored a very late winner for victory at Fleetwood Town. Alan Judge scored for Ipswich Town in their two one success against Portman Road visitors Bristol Rovers. Stephen Ward also started for the ‘Tractor Boys’ while Aaron Drinan and loanee Troy Parrott were second half substitutes but fellow loanee Mark McGuinness remained on the bench. Ronan Curtis scored for Portsmouth in their two one victory over visitors Rochdale who included loanee Gavin Bazunu in their starting eleven. 

Ireland draw with Qatar in friendly contest…30/03/2021


The search for his first victory as senior international team manager continues for Stephen Kenny following this evening’s one all draw with Qatar in a friendly contest played in Hungary. Despite a very bright opening period which yielded a goal after four minutes, tonight gradually descended into another depressing performance. The starting eleven showed eight changes from Saturday evening’s home defeat by Luxembourg with Gavin Bazunu, Seamus Coleman and Dara O’Shea the surviving trio. There were outings for many of the older brigade including Shane Duffy, Cyrus Christie, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Shane Long. The withdrawal of Brady after just 21 minutes through injury was pivotal as he had started brightly. Whether by inability or design there was much use of a long ball tactic which we believed was anathema to the footballing principles of Stephen Kenny. Whatever the reason, it did not work and we were treated to a quite dismal night in Debrecen. The side seemed jaded and bereft of energy which may be a reflection of the fact that many of the players are not playing regularly, it at all, for their clubs. The goal was well worked from a short corner routine with James McClean‘s shot taking a slight defection on route to the net. However we did not kick on as one might expect and the remainder of the first half was a scrappy affair. There were some  anxious moments for teenage goalkeeper Bazunu whose inexperience showed with a couple of rash ventures from his goal but his shot stopping overall was solid and he could not be blamed for the equalising goal which came two minutes into the second half. Shane Long worked tirelessly up front and his pace caused problems to the Qatar defence. His withdrawal on 57 minutes was rather surprising. Dara O’Shea continues to offer hope for the future but the remainder offered little and looked out of sorts. Despite a lack of conviction we did have two excellent chances to score but substitute Callum Robinson dragged his opportunity wide and fellow substitute Josh Cullen saw his added time header well saved by the goalkeeper.

Team: Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman (c), Shane Duffy, Dara O’Shea; Cyrus Christie, Jayson Molumby, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, James McClean; Shane Long, Daryl Horgan.
Troy Parrott for Brady 21′
Jason Knight for Horgan 57′
Callum Robinson for Long 57′
Alan Browne for Hendrick 83′
Josh Cullen for Molumby 83′
Ryan Manning  for McClean 83′

Our senior international side take on World Cup hosts Qatar in a friendly international being played in Hungary at 7.45pm this Tuesday evening. Manager Stephen Kenny will be aiming to secure his first win in this the 11th contest of his senior managerial reign and has selected the following starting eleven.

Team: Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman (c), Shane Duffy, Dara O’Shea; Cyrus Christie, Jayson Molumby, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, James McClean; Shane Long, Daryl Horgan

International activity continues this week…30/03/2021

Following the dismal performance of Saturday night last our senior international side travel to Hungary where they will face 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar on Tuesday evening. Whether manager Stephen Kenny and his players will welcome this friendly contest or not may be a matter of some conjecture. Qatar have already secured victories over Luxembourg (1-0) and Azerbaijan (2-1) during the past week and will present a significant challenge. The squad has lost two further players with Matt Doherty and Enda Stevens returning to their clubs having picked up minor injuries. Both players were well below par against Serbia and Luxembourg and may well have been replaced by manager Kenny in any event. Stephen Kenny has confirmed that Ireland will travel to Spain in June for a 9 day training camp during which we will play Andorra and Hungary in friendly internationals. 

In our Group A of the World Cup qualifying road, Portugal travel to face Luxembourg at 7.45pm while Serbia visit Azerbaijan at 5pm.

Our U21 Head Coach Jim Crawford and his management team kept a close eye on the opening contest in Group F of the 2023 European U21 Championship qualifying campaign which saw Montenegro play out a two all draw with visitors Bosnia & Herzegovina this Monday afternoon.

Ireland suffer chastening defeat by Luxembourg…27/03/2021


Ireland suffered a chastening, bordering on humiliating, one nil defeat by Luxembourg in this evening’s World Cup qualifying match played in the Aviva Stadium. This depressing result, garnered from a performance lacking energy or impetus has almost certainly spelt the death knell to our hopes of qualifying for Qatar 2022. The contrast with the performance in Serbia on Wednesday last was dumbfounding and can not be truly explained. Save for the performance of debutant goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, captain Seamus Coleman and second half substitute Robbie Brady, there are no positives to report. Tonight we completely lacked any form of identity and it would be clutching at straws to anticipate any real revival in the immediate future. The road ahead looks arduous and lengthy. Post match, shell shocked captain Coleman offered no excuses and could find no explanation for the lack of belief that pervaded the team. Manager Stephen Kenny was also acutely perplexed and accepted that the impending criticism will be deserved. The change of playing style is not really working after ten matches with four draws and six defeats. Noble though the style principle may be we do not, at this juncture, have sufficient players with the necessary quality to implement it.

This evening we mustered but one chance in the opening half with James Collins being unfortunate not to convert a delightful pass from Callum Robinson. In the second half, substitute Robbie Brady provided a couple of fine deliveries but we were unable to apply any finishing touches. The visiting goalkeeper was little troubled throughout while the debutant Bazunu was required to make three excellent saves.

Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman(C), Dara O’Shea, Ciaran Clark; Matt Doherty, Jason Knight, Josh Cullen, Alan Browne, Enda Stevens; James Collins, Callum Robinson
Robbie Brady for Doherty 45′

James McClean for Clark 60′
Shane Long for Robinson 73′
Jayson Molumby for Cullen 88′
Troy Parrott for Collins 88′

Ireland face Luxembourg this Saturday evening…27/03/2021
Manager Stephen Kenny has named his starting eleven for tonight’s  World Cup Qualifying contest against Luxembourg in the Aviva Stadium which is set to kick-off at 7.45pm.

The side shows three changes from the match against Serbia with Gavin Bazunu, making his debut, Jason Knight and James Collins replacing Mark Travers, Jayson Molumby and the injured Aaron Connolly. 

Team: Gavin Bazunu; Seamus Coleman(C), Dara O’Shea, Ciaran Clark; Matt Doherty, Jason Knight, Josh Cullen, Alan Browne, Enda Stevens; James Collins, Callum Robinson


Republic of Ireland Manager Stephen Kenny is forced to make at least one change to his starting eleven for the meeting with Luxembourg in the Aviva Stadium at 7.45pm this Saturday evening. Injury rules out Aaron Connolly who has returned to his club Brighton & Hove Albion and will not be available for next week’s encounter with Qatar.

Ireland lose to Serbia this Wednesday evening…24/03/2021
Our 2022 World Cup qualification campaign got off to a disappointing start with a three two defeat by Serbia in Belgrade this Wednesday evening. A very new and youthful starting eleven did adopt a 3-5-2 formation which functioned reasonably well for the majority of the first half. Ireland started quite brightly, forcing two corners in the opening minutes but they came to nothing. The hosts responded with a series of corners of their own but they too proved fruitless. Ireland stunned the hosts with the opening goal after 18 minutes . Some fine build up play involving Matt Doherty, Alan Brown and Enda Stevens saw the ball directed to Callum Robinson who delivered an excellent cross which was powered to the net by Brown who had made his run from near the halfway line. Ireland continued to play some neat possession football but were undone on 40 minutes when Ciaran Clark was outjumped by Dusan Tadic whose flick on was fired to the net by  Dusan Vlahovic. Ireland did not maintain their first half quality on the resumption and the hosts began to dominate. Ireland introduced Jeff Hendrick for Jayson Molumny on 61 minutes and Shane Long replaced Aaron Connolly six minutes later. Hosts Serbia took the lead on 68 minutes through substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic who lobbed Mark Travers from some thirty yards. Seven minutes later Mitrovic was again on the scoresheet, outjumping Clark in the penalty area to power home his header. A now somewhat deflated Ireland made three changes on 79 minutes with Robbie Brady, James Collins and James McClean replacing Browne, Clark and Robinson. The changes did spark something of a revival with Long pressurizing the goalkeeper and a defender into an error which Collins pounced upon to score. It was however too little too late. There were positive performances from captain Seamus Coleman midfielder Josh Cullen and forward Callum Robinson while all five substitutes did make some impact.

The other Group A contest played this evening saw Portugal defeat their visitors Azerbaijan by one goal to nil while in the friendly fixture, World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar defeated Luxembourg by one goal to nil.

Our Republic of Ireland senior international football team set out  this evening on the journey which we all hope sees us participate at the 2022 World Cup Finals in Qatar. Manager Stephen Kenny has named his starting eleven for this opening engagement with second seed hosts Serbia in the Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade at 7.45pm.

It is extremely unlikely that anyone could have predicted the starting eleven which appears to be a 3-5-2 formation with significant attacking emphasis. We await the on pitch revelation. 

Team: Mark Travers; Seamus Coleman(C), Dara O’Shea, Ciaran Clark; Matt Doherty, Jayson Molumby, Josh Cullen, Alan Browne, Enda Stevens; Aaron Cconnolly, Callum Robinson

The four extended squad members to miss out this evening are Conor Coventry, Ronan Curtis, Ryan Manning and Troy Parrott.

Revised Squad

Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu(Manchester City on loan at Rochdale),  Kieran O’Hara(Burton Albion), Mark Travers(AFC Bournemouth)

Defenders: Cyrus Christie(Fulham on loan at Nottingham Forest), Ciaran Clark(Newcastle United), Seamus Coleman(Everton), Matt Doherty(Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Duffy(Brighton & Hove Albion on loan at Glasgow Celtic), Darragh Lenihan(Blackburn Rovers), Ryan Manning(Swansea City), Dara O’Shea(West Bromwich Albion), Enda Stevens(Sheffield United) 

Midfielders: Robbie Brady(Burnley), Alan Browne(Preston North End), Conor Coventry(West Ham United), Josh Cullen(RSC Anderlecht), Ronan Curtis(Portsmouth), Jeff Hendrick(Newcastle United), Daryl Horgan((Wycombe Wanderers), Jason Knight(Derby County), James McClean(Stoke City), Jayson Molumby(Brighton & Hove Albion on loan at Preston North End),   

Forwards: James Collins(Luton Town), Aaron Connolly(Brighton & Hove Albion),  Shane Long(Southampton on loan at AFC Bournemouth), Troy Parrott(Tottenham Hotspur on loan at Ipswich Town), Callum Robinson(West Bromwich Albion)


Martin Prendergast’s report from Collier Park, Wrexham

Wales U21 – 1
Republic of Ireland U21 – 2

Match report from Collier Park, Wrexham

Wrexham 03
Collier Park, Wrexham

We had the lot at Wrexham’s Collier Park this afternoon, driving wind, sleet and showers….. but at the end of the 90 minutes It was Ireland who were just about worthy victors against Wales.

This was the first time both nations had met at U21 level, it took a while for Ireland, playing against the wind in the first half, to settle and they conceded a goal early on when a neat passage of play down the right resulted in a tidy finish from Joe Adam’s.

Ireland failed to create any notable chances in the first 45 but once their two stand out midfielders Luca Connell and Conor Noss got more into the game, Ireland offered more of a threat in the attacking third. It was Noss who created the equaliser for Jonathan Afolabi to tap in on the 76th minute. Within the space of a few minutes Ireland were ahead when a back pass from Wales Morgan Bayes lead to a calamitous own goal.

Jim Crawford handed debuts to 11 players over the course of the game, the first warm-up for the 2023 European Championship which kicks off in September.

In defence, centre back pairing McGuinness and Omobamidele were solid and commanding, vocal too, with the latter especially calling for calm of his team mates, encouraging them to “keep the ball” in the first half which allowed them to settle. It was notable at the end of the game that McGuinness was congratulated and warmly embraced on his performance by Ireland coach John O’Shea .

Gavin Kilkenny’s introduction in the 69th minute was also a key moment in the game, he seemed to bring an energy to the team and drive to seek an equaliser which duly game a few minutes after his introduction. This encouraged the belief in his team mates to press and push on.

Captain Lee O’Connor, in his 65th under age cap for Ireland, was also assured throughout and could have scored a goal himself to mark the occasion.

Other notable stand out performers were Ferry and goal scorer Afolabi.

Jim Crawford will be delighted that his team came back from going a goal behind, his midfield were mobile and always wanted the ball, and one could see several similar patterns of play developing that are synonymous with Kenny’s team at senior level.


IRELAND – B Maher; L O’Connor, M McGuinness, A Omobamidele, M O’Malley (G Kilkenny 69); L Connell, L Watson (C Grant 74); A Gilbert (T Wright 69), J Afolabi (E Varian 86), C Noss, W Ferry

Wrexham 10

Wrexham 11


Martin Prendergast

More news from Wrexham

Airtricity League Match Series 2…26/03/2021

Match Series 2 in the Airtricity League Premier Division commenced with two fixtures on Friday evening. Dundalk welcomed Finn Harps to Oriel Park where they suffered a shock two one home defeat while Waterford played host to Sligo Rovers in the Regional Sports Centre where they also went down to a two one home defeat.

There were two further contests completed on Saturday afternoon with Bohemian relinquishing a two goal advantage as Longford Town secured a two all draw in Dalymount Park while St Patrick’s Athletic scored  a last minute goal to defeat visitors Drogheda United by two goals to one in Richmond Park.

The fixture between Derry City and Shamrock Rovers has been postponed because of international call-ups and has been rescheduled for Tuesday the 13th April.

The Airtricity League First Division commenced on Friday evening with four fixtures all of which kicked-off at 7.45pm.
Cork City 2-1 Cobh Ramblers
Galway United 0-0  Shelbourne
UCD 2-2 Athlone Town
Wexford 1-2 Cabinteely
The remaining fixture between Bray Wanderers and new entity Treaty United from Limerick took place in the Carlisle Grounds at 3pm on Sunday afternoon and ended in a scoreless draw.