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′