There were a number of Irish U21 and senior internationals together with several international aspirants in EFL Trophy action this Tuesday evening.
U21 striker Ryan Cassidy, on loan at Accrington Stanley from Watford, scored twice as his side crushed a youthful Leeds United side by seven goals to nil. U21 centre back hopeful Corrie Ndaba was in the Ipswich Town side alongside senior international Alan Judge and U21 striker Aaron Drinan as they lost to the visiting Arsenal U21 side, captained by Ireland U19 centre back Mark McGuinness, by two goals to one. U21 striker Zack Elbouzedi started for Lincoln City with Anthony Scully a 75th minutes substitute as they defeated Scunthorpe United 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out following a one all draw. Scully was among the successful penalty takers. U21 hopeful Warren O’Hora, on loan at MK Dons from Brighton & Hove Albion, started for his side in their 3-1 victory over visitors Northampton Town. Recent Ireland declaree Mark Sykes started alongside Liam Kelly for Oxford United who defeated the Chelsea U21 side by two goals to one. Senior hopefuls Ronan Curtis, Sean Raggett and Marcus Harness started for Portsmouth who defeated visitors Colchester United by two goals to nil with Harness scoring both goals. Teenagers Andrew Omobamidele and Josh Giurgi both started for Norwich City U21s in their 3-2 success at Plymouth Argyle. Glasgow Celtic loanee Lee O’Connor started for Tranmere Rovers who lost in a penalty shoot-out following a scoreless draw at Port Vale. O’Connor again scored his penalty as he had done in last Saturday’s shoot-out defeat in the Carabao Cup. U21 midfielder Conor Coventry was in the West Ham United U21 side and scored in their 3-1 victory over Southend United at Roots Hall.
Sligo Rovers climbed up to third position in the Airtricity League Premier Division with a three one victory over North West rivals Finn Harps in the Showgrounds this Monday evening.
The hugely anticipated meeting of the top two, Shamrock Rovers and Bohemian took place in Tallaght Stadium on Saturday afternoon and saw the hosts extend their lead at the summit of the League Table to five points with a one nil victory. The contest did not quite live up to expectations with the goal coming after just four minutes from a moment of disarray in the normally assured ‘Gypsies’ defence. Later in the afternoon, Shelbourne welcomed Cork City to Tolka Park where the sides played out a one all draw in an extremely dour and poor contest.
There was just one Airtricity League Premier Division contest played on Friday evening with Waterford defeating visitors St Patrick’s Athletic by three goals to nil in the RSC to move up to fourth place on the League Table.
P W D L F A G/D Pts
Shamrock Rovers 10 8 2 0 21 6 15 26
Bohemian 10 7 0 3 12 5 7 21
Sligo Rovers 10 5 0 5 14 15 -1 15
Dundalk 9 4 2 3 17 12 5 14
Waterford 10 4 2 4 12 12 – 14
Shelbourne 10 3 3 4 7 9 -2 12
Derry City 9 3 2 4 11 10 1 11
St Patrick’s Athletic 10 3 2 5 6 10 -4 11
Cork City 10 2 2 6 6 16 -10 8
Finn Harps 10 2 1 7 7 18 -11 7
There were four Airtricity League First Division fixtures played on Monday evening with Drogheda United knocking Cabinteely off the summit of the league table with a resounding five one victory in United Park. Bray Wanderers defeated Athlone Town by three goals to one in the Carlisle Grounds to move up to second place. There was also a one nil success for Cobh Ramblers over Shamrock Rovers II in Tallaght Stadium while the Galway United revival under new manager John Caulfield continued with a three nil victory at UCD.
There was a full set of Airtricity League First Division fixtures completed on Friday evening. Current leaders Cabinteely made the short journey to the Carlisle Grounds where they suffered a three nil defeat by Bray Wanderers while Drogheda United lost to the only goal from visitors Cobh Ramblers in United Park. UCD crushed Wexford by eight goals to nil in the Bowl while Athlone Town suffered a four one defeat by visitors Galway United in the Town Stadium. Longford Town moved up to second place on goal difference following their two one victory over Shamrock Rovers II in Tallaght Stadium.
P W D L F A G/D Pts
Drogheda United 10 6 2 2 24 10 14 20
Bray Wanderers 10 6 2 2 16 8 8 20
Longford Town 10 6 1 3 12 9 3 19
Cabinteely 10 6 1 3 15 15 – 19
UCD 10 5 2 3 19 13 6 17
Cobh Ramblers 10 5 2 3 13 8 5 17
Galway United 10 2 5 3 12 10 2 11
Shamrock Rovers II 10 2 2 6 11 13 -2 8
Wexford 10 1 3 6 5 24 -19 6
Athlone Town 10 0 2 8 12 29 -17 2
Ireland went down to a disappointing one nil defeat by Finland this Sunday afternoon in Manager Stephen Kenny‘s first home senior international. The visitors were deserving victors and save for the exploits of Darren Randolph the score line might well have been more emphatic. While Ireland just shaded the possession statistics they were found seriously wanting in the crucial goal scoring area.
Stephen Kenny retained eight of the eleven that started in Sofia with the three changes coming in the midfield area where debutant Jayson Molumby, Harry Arter and Robbie Brady replaced Hendrick, McCarthy and Hourihane. Ireland again sought to build from the back and their pass statistics were again in the higher zone but in the latter stages with tiredness becoming fairly evident there was something of a falling off.
Again, like Thursday last, there are concerns surrounding the back four with full backs Doherty and Stevens looking somewhat out of sorts with neither making any real impact akin to their club form. The central duo of Duffy and Egan also had some shaky moments and the fact that all four operate in a 3-5-2 system with their clubs perhaps points to a formation change. Duffy of course will soon revert to a back four scenario following his loan transfer to Glasgow Celtic.
Harry Arter was his usual energetic self and was arguably the best of our outfield players. On the basis of our two outings to date he may well supercede James McCarthy as the midfield anchor man. Robbie Brady delivered some teasing dead balls and he may just shade Conor Hourihane in that department. Jayson Molumby, the young Waterford man, had mixed fortunes and did collect a booking but his endeavour and work rate could not be faulted but he is unlikely to supercede Jeff Hendrick.
Our youthful front three all offered much endeavour but there was very little end product. They were all less effective than they had been on Thursday last and the introduction of the more seasoned trio of Callum Robinson, David McGoldrick and James McClean provided a more significant threat but sadly again no end product.
With just over four weeks to the EURO 2020 play-off semi-final in Slovakia, manager Stephen Kenny will hope to see the majority, if not all, of his squad in competitive club action which brings about significant improved performances.
Darren Randolph 8
Matt Doherty 5
Shane Duffy 6
John Egan 7
Enda Stevens 5
Jayson Molumby 6
Harry Arter 7
Robbie Brady 6
Callum O’Dowda(-59) 6
Adam Idah(-66) 6
Aaron Connolly (-77) 6
Callum Robinson(59) 6
David McGoldrick(66) 6
James McClean (77) 6
Manager Stephen Kenny has named his Republic of Ireland starting eleven for this afternoon’s UEFA Nations League encounter with Finland at the Aviva Stadium. The side shows three changes from Thursday evening’s draw in Bulgaria with the midfield trio of Hendrick, McCarthy and Hourihane replaced by debutant Jayson Molumby, Harry Arter and Robbie Brady.
Team: Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy(C), John Egan, Enda Stevens; Jayson Molumby, Harry Arter, Robbie Brady; Callum O’Dowda, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly
Several members of Jim Crawford‘s midweek Republic of Ireland U21 gathering were in English Football League (Carabao) Cup action on Saturday afternoon.
Midfielder Jason Knight was in the Derby County side which progressed to round two with a 3-2 penalty shoot-out success following a scoreless draw with newly promoted League Two side Barrow at Pride Park. Anthony Scully was in the Lincoln City side which defeated their hosts Crewe Alexandra by two goals to one but Zack Elbouzedi was an unused substitute. Goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, on loan from Manchester City, was in the Rochdale side which defeated their hosts Huddersfield Town with the only goal at the McAlpine Stadium. Chiedoze Ogbene, together with senior hopeful Kieran Sadlier, started for Rotherham United who went down to a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat at Salford City after a one all draw. Glasgow Celtic loanee Lee O’Connor and his Tranmere Rovers colleagues suffered an 8-7 penalty shoot-out defeat by their visitors, newly promoted Harrowgate Town after a one all draw. O’Connor did convert his shoot-out penalty. Conor Masterson and senior hopeful Ryan Manning were in the QPR side which went down to a three two defeat at Plymouth Argyle where Manning opened the scoring after just two minutes. Midfielder Jack Taylor and his Peterborough United colleagues went down to a one nil defeat by visitors Cheltenham Town at London Road. Recently declared senior hopeful Mark Sykes was in action with Oxford United who lost in a penalty shoot-out following a one all draw with visitors AFC Wimbledon. Senior international James Collins scored all three goals for Luton Town who defeated visitors Norwich City by three goals to one at Kenilworth Road. U17 international defender Andrew Omobamidele was an unused substitute for the ‘Canaries’.
The Republic of Ireland, under the guidance of new manager Stephen Kenny, scored an added time equaliser to earn a UEFA Nations League point from a one all draw with Bulgaria in Sofia this Thursday evening. There are mixed emotions surrounding the performance which lacked real ingenuity but the dramatic late equaliser from captain Shane Duffy was justified on the balance of play.
With just three days preparation time it was always going to be difficult to implement the playing style of the new manager. There were however some indications of what we may expect in the future. The match statistics show that Ireland had 63% possession although much of this was in our own half involving our back four. Ireland had 14 efforts on goal compared to 10 for the hosts but only three of those were on target. The corner count of 5 to 1 also favoured Ireland and indeed the 93rd minute equaliser came from that avenue with skipper Duffy powerfully heading home a delightful delivery from substitute Robbie Brady.
There were some mixed performances from the playing personnel with Aaron Connolly, playing wide on the left, providing the brightest moments in his ‘man of the match’ performance. Goalkeeper Darren Randolph, whilst not regularly troubled, provided a competent and steady last line of defence and quite noticeably sought to pass the ball out from the back at all times rather than the more traditional lengthy kick previously prevalent. Jeff Hendrick was very much the primary operator in midfield being involved in much of our finer moments. There was a degree of rustiness involving several of our players with none of the back four looking entirely up to speed and by his own admission, Shane Duffy was culpable for the concession of the Bulgarian goal on 56 minutes. There was an excellent first half performance from Callum O’Dowda, playing wide on the right, but he faded in the second period before being replaced. Debutant Adam Idah was not provided with any goalscoring opportunities but worked tirelessly in the challenging lone striker role.
Sunday afternoon’s encounter with Finland, who lost to Wales by the
only goal in Helsinki this evening, will provide further opportunity for Stephen Kenny to implant his philosophy in the players although of course there is a very short time frame.
Darren Randolph 7
Matt Doherty 6
Shane Duffy 6
John Egan 6
Enda Stevens 6
Jeff Hendrick 7
James McCarthy(-70) 6
Conor Hourihane 6
Callum O’Dowda(-74) 6
Adam Idah(-77) 6
Aaron Connolly 8
Robbie Brady(70) 6
Callum Robinson(74) 6
Shane Long(77) 6
New Republic of Ireland Senior Manager Stephen Kenny has named his first starting eleven for the UEFA Nations League contest against Bulgaria in Sofia this Thursday evening.
There is a debut for teenage striker Adam Idah while Matt Doherty starts at right back with Seamus Coleman on the substitute bench. James McCarthy returns to anchor midfield while the wide positions up front are occupied by Callum O’Dowda and Aaron Connolly. The captain’s armband has been handed to Shane Duffy.
Team: Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy(C), John Egan, Enda Stevens; Jeff Hendrick, James McCarthy, Conor Hourihane; Callum O’Dowda, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly