Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ireland u19's qualify for Euro finals

Ireland have qualified for the European Championship Under-19 finals in July after recording an impressive 3-0 win over Italy on Sunday in Kolobrzeg, Poland.

Four points from their first two matches left Ireland needing to defeat mini-group leaders Italy in their final game to secure the one qualifying berth into the finals to be held on July 20-August 1.

Conor Murphy fired Ireland ahead on the half hour before substitute Sean Murray and Joe Shaughnessy added two more in the second half to clinch the victory and qualification. Italy finished with 9 players after having two sent-off in the final stages.

An Ireland side which showed two changes due to suspensions of Anthony O'Connor and Eoin Wearen were quickly into the action.

Francesco Bardi in the Italian goal had to be on his guard to foil a stinging shot by Irish midfielder Declan Walker on 16 minutes.

There was little the Livorno ‘keeper could do just past the half hour when Murphy hared onto a through ball and lifted it over the advancing custodian for the precious opener.

For the third game running, John O'Sullivan was at his brilliant best again and worked Bardi with another effort shortly after the restart when he was put clear on goal.

But Ireland wouldn't have long to wait for another opening and when Kevin Knight picked out fellow substitute Sean Murray with a cross, the Watford youngster showed tremendous composure to slot home.

Italy nearly halved the arrears ten minutes later when Aaron McCarey's crossbar was clipped with a shot that deflected off John Egan.

That proved to be the only scare though as Joe Shaughnessy made the game safe by rattling the net with a shot inside the box after Conor Murphy had set up the Aberdeen defender.

Ireland 3-0 Italy
Conor Murphy 32
Sean Murray 61
Joe Shaughnessy 81

IRELAND: McCarey (Wolves); Doherty (Wolves), Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Egan (Sunderland), Williams (Aston Villa); Walker (Wrexham), O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), Hendrick (Derby County), Carruthers (Aston Villa); Forde (Wolves), Murphy (Bray Wanderers).

Substitutions: Knight (Leicester City) for Forde (h/t), Murray (Watford) for Walker (48), Lopez (Bohemians) for Carruthers (90).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ireland are Carling Nations Cup champions

Robbie Keane's 49th international goal saw Ireland claim the inaugural Carling Nations Cup with a 1-0 win over Scotland.

Keane grabbed the winner midway through the first half after running 30 yards and firing low under Allan McGregor.

The skipper's place in the history books in international goals scored owes much to the work of the much-maligned Paul McShane.

The defender broke up a Scottish attack, produced several tricks before continuing his surge upfield, which allowed Keane run unchallenged to the edge of the Scottish box.

Despite some frantic late defending, Ireland managed to keep the Scots at bay, although poor finishing from Miller and James Forrest helped.

Victory saw Ireland pick up their first international trophy at senior level since May 1986, when they saw off Iceland and Czechoslovakia in Reykjavik.

That success marked the beginning of a golden period for Irish football and qualification campaign for Euro 88. Giovanni Trapattoni will hope that history repeats itself.

Apart from Ireland's celebrations with the trophy, this tournament has produced few champagne moments. Yet, this was the best game of the competition that has failed to capture the public's imagination.

It had little of the tedium that usually accompanies end of season friendlies, with a vocal Tartan Army doing their bit to heighten the atmosphere.

Giovanni Trapattoni made four changes to the side that thrashed Northern Ireland as Darren O'Dea, Keith Fahey, Liam Lawrence and Stephen Hunt made the starting XI.

Scotland also made four changes as Craig Levein introduced Phil Bardsley and Barry Robson, as well as giving first starts to Grant Hanley and Forrest.

Both sides created openings in the early exchanges, with Charlie Adam and Bardsley trying their luck from range, the latter being brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Given.

At the other end, Simon Cox and Hunt could have done better with half-chances that fell their way.

Scotland were stronger in possession, but once again it was Keane who fired Ireland in front midway through the half.

McShane brushed off Naismith and weaved past Forrest before setting Keane away on a 30-yard run, which ended with the skipper's shot sneaking under McGregor.

The visitors continued to press and Given was called on to keep out Adam's free-kick and another well-struck effort from Naismith.

Scotland were lucky not to go two down after the break when they were caught out by Hunt's quick free-kick to Cox. The striker dragged his shot across the front of goal from ten yards.

Adam, who had been an injury doubt before kick-off, struggled to orchestrate play from deep and was replaced by Barry Bannan midway through the second half.

Barry Robson's in-swinging cross gave Forrest a chance to cap his debut with an equaliser, but the young winger volleyed wide with the goal at his mercy.

The pace of the game slowed and Trapattoni also introduced fresh legs from the bench, with the arrival of Seamus Coleman and Kevin Foley for Lawrence and O'Dea.

Miller had a strong penalty claim turned down when it appeared that Hunt had held him back by the arm. The Scottish striker's protestations earned him a booking.

But Scotland's passion was reignited after that, as first Naismith shinned a volley wide and then Miller drew another parry from Given.

The final chance of a frantic late period fell Miller's way when Naismith put him clean through. The striker held off Stephen Kelly but placed his shot wide of the post and a sprawling Given.

The win and clean sheet will undoubtedly give Ireland confidence and belief for next Saturday's crucial Euro 2012 qualifier in Macedonia.

However, the absence of Richard Dunne from Ireland's back four will be a big blow, with Kelly and a rusty O'Dea likely to be called upon to keep the qualification campaign on track.

Republic of Ireland: 1 Given; 2 McShane, 4 Kelly, 5 O'Dea (12 Foley '66), 3 Ward; 7 Lawrence (13 Coleman 62), 6 Fahey, 8 Andrews, 11 Hunt; 9 Cox, 10 Keane (15 Treacy '83).

Subs not used: 14 Delaney, 16 Forde, 17 Keogh, 18 St Ledger, 23 Randolph.

Booked: McShane, Fahey, Foley.

Scotland: 1 McGregor; 2 Whittaker, 4 Berra, 5 Hanley, 3 Bardsley; 7 Forrest (17 McCormack '86), 8 Brown, 10 Adam (16 Bannan '63), 6 Robson (19 Maguire '75); 11 Naismith; 9Miller.

Subs not used: 12 Gilks, 13 McArthur, 14 Caldwell, 15 Wilson, 20 Martin, 21 Turner.

Booked: Adam, Miller.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keane warns players to show commitment to Ireland

Ireland captain Robbie Keane has warned players to commit fully to Irelands cause or not play at all.

Keane has been bemused by the high number of players who have pulled out from international duty for the Carling Nations Cup this past week.

Ireland have had plenty of problems with mystery initially surrounding the failure of James McCarthy, Jon Walters and Marc Wilson to report for duty.

The Tottenham striker said: 'I think that is obviously clear to see. It frustrates everybody but what can you do about it? I don't know the answer.

'I have never once pulled out of a squad for any reason apart being injured. I am a proud Irishman. As a kid growing up it was always a dream to play for my country.

'I still have that same hunger and enthusiasm that I had when I first had the opportunity. That will never change for me.'

Trapattoni is equally surprised by some players' apparent lack of appetite for international football and feels they will live to regret it.

The veteran Italian boss said: 'When they retire they will understand. I never always understood what was important when I was younger. In time they will think and they will understand.'

Ireland now want to draw a line under the issue as they step up preparations for next week's return qualifier in Macedonia.

They face Scotland tomorrow in the final match of the Nations Cup in Dublin and Keane is expecting stiffer competition than in Tuesday's 5-0 trouncing of Northern Ireland.

Keane said: "They have players coming through and players established in the Premier League. It is going to be tough for us. No disrespect to Northern Ireland, I am sure it will be a bigger test.

'I watched their game (against Wales) and I was very impressed with them.'

Keane, already Ireland's record goalscorer, struck twice on Tuesday to take his tally for the country to 48 and now has his sights set on a half-century.

'If you'd asked me a few years ago when I started off, I wouldn't even have dreamed of scoring 50 goals,' he said.

'My aim was to beat Niall Quinn's record (of 21). I did that and I'm lucky enough the goals have kept coming. If I don't do it tomorrow, hopefully it will against Macedonia.

'If it does happen it will be a very proud moment, obviously I'd be delighted.'

Trapattoni names Ireland team for Scotland clash

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will make four changes to his side for tomorrow's Carling Nations Cup decider against Scotland.

The Italian today named his team for the final match of the four nations tournament in the Aviva Stadium but said he may review his line-up after another training session.

Damien Delaney, Kevin Foley, Seamus Coleman and Keith Treacy are the players to make way following Tuesday's 5-0 thrashing of Northern Ireland.

Defender Darren O'Dea has won his battle for fitness after an ankle injury while Birmingham's Keith Fahey, who joined up with the squad after the Northern Ireland game, slots into midfield.

Wolves winger Stephen Hunt comes off the bench to play on the left while Portsmouth's Liam Lawrence replaces Coleman on the right.

Record goalscorer Robbie Keane, who took his international tally to 48 with a double strike four days ago, again captains the side and will partner Simon Cox.

West Brom striker Cox and Wolves utility man Stephen Ward, who will play at left-back, are rewarded for their goalscoring debuts against Northern Ireland with second caps.

Both Ireland and Scotland have won their opening two matches of the competition and the winner at the Aviva Stadium will claim the trophy.

Trapattoni's priority is next week's Euro 2012 qualifier in Macedonia but hopes to finish the competition well in front of a home crowd likely to be around 25,000.

'Obviously we will play for a good result but we do have one or two injured players.

'I am confident about our performance and the result.

'It is a game like a derby. Many of the Scotland players, like ours, play in the Championship or the Premier League.

'I hope and I think it can be a beautiful game.'

Ireland team to play Scotland in Carling Nations Cup at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, 29 May:

Given, McShane, O'Dea, Kelly, Ward, Lawrence, Andrews, Fahey, Hunt, Keane, Cox.

Keane backs Given for Premiership return

Robbie Keane expects his Ireland team-mate Shay Given to be back playing Premiership football next season.

Manchester City goalkeeper Given has endured a frustrating year at Eastlands after losing his place in the team to Joe Hart.

The 34-year-old Donegal born goal stopper is expected to move on in the summer and Keane has underlined the qualities the former Newcastle goalkeeper offers.

The pair are currently together on international duty preparing to face Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup on Sunday and Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier next week.

Tottenham striker Keane, who himself could be looking for a new club this summer, said: “I still feel he is the best ‘keeper in the Premier League.

“I’m biased because I have worked with Shay and he is a good friend but, not only that, he is a top-class goalkeeper. It has been a frustrating season for him and he has come out and said that.

“But I am sure in the summer, after getting these games behind him, he’ll look forward to a break and he’ll certainly get a club for next season, no doubt about that.

“Whoever does buy him would be getting a world-class goalkeeper and someone who is great to have around the dressing room as well.”

Keane has had a disappointing year himself after falling down the pecking order at Spurs and then suffering injuries during his loan spell with West Ham.

He feels both he and Given are happy to be away with their country this week to enjoy some time on the field.

The 30-year-old is also closing in on a half-century of international goals having taken his tally to 48 with a double strike in Tuesday’s 5-0 thrashing of Nigel Worthington's IFA side in Dublin.

Keane said: “For those who haven’t played a lot of games, they probably want to play in all the games to get their fitness and sharpness.

“Those that have played a lot are probably happy playing just one this week.”

Ireland also have another game this summer with the qualifier in Macedonia on June 4th followed by a friendly against Italy three days later.

The build-up in their training camp was overshadowed earlier in the week by the absences of Wigan’s James McCarthy and Stoke pair Jon Walters and Marc Wilson.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni said the FAI had received no explanation for their non-appearance but Wigan insisted they had informed them that McCarthy had an ankle injury.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has now said similar concerning Walters, telling the Stoke Sentinel: “Jon picked up a shoulder injury against Wigan last Sunday.

“He said he was willing to go over to Ireland to have it tested there, but the doctor got back to him to say not to bother coming over. So I know for a fact Jon is covered and he had got permission.”

Pulis did not comment on Wilson but the FAI now understand he has an ankle injury and it appears the underlying problem amid the fiasco has concerned communication.

Preston defender Sean St Ledger has been ruled out of the remaining internationals with a knee injury but Darren O’Dea is winning his battle for fitness after an ankle problem.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ireland destroy the North in Carling cup rout

Robbie Keane grabbed a double as Ireland destroyed Nigel Worthinton's IFA side 5-0 in the Carling Nations Cup in Dublin.

Already Ireland's all-time record goalscorer, Keane claimed his 47th and 48th goals in his 106th appearance for the national team.

It proved to be a shockingly poor display by the North, who were cheered on by a sparse band of supporters numbering less than 300.

The home side took the lead with 24 minutes gone. Keith Treacy played a one-two with Cox from a short corner before whipping into the goal-mouth. Goalkeeper Blayney threw himself at the ball but spilled in front of Ward who rifled home the opener from close range.

Ireland doubled their lead after 37 minutes when Keane pounced on a dreadful pass-back by Lee Hodson before lofting over the goalkeeper and seeing the shot nestle in the bottom corner.

There was further misery for the North when Coleman's ball across the face of goal was forced into the back of his own net by Cathcart a minute before the interval.

Nine minutes after the restart Alan Thompson was deemed to have fouled Keane in the box and was given a straight red card by Scottish referee Craig Thomson, before the Tottenham striker dusted himself off and slotted low past Blayney from the penalty spot.

Keane was then replaced by Andy Keogh to rapturous applause from the crowd.

A commotion then followed in the section housing the North's fans, however order was quickly restored by the stewards.

But Blayney was left picking the ball out of the back of the net again when Cox raced into the box and sent an angled drive past the goalkeeper to complete the rout, before Stephen Hunt's free-kick crashed off the post late on.

The victory puts Ireland at the top of the Nations Cup table ahead of Scotland's game against Wales tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keane voices support for players on eligibility issue

Speaking ahead of tonight’s Carling Nations Cup game against Nigel Worthington’s IFA team, Ireland captain Robbie Keane has waded into the eligibility issue stating that it was “totally up to the players” themselves if young Irish internationals from the North decide to play for Ireland rather than the IFA team.

Keane said “If someone wants to play for the Republic and they have the opportunity to do that, its totally up to the players, we had the Darron Gibson situation but at the end of the day he wanted to play for Ireland, so there’s not a lot they can do about it”

The recent hysterical and confused reaction of IFA manager Nigel Worthington regarding the eligibility issue flies in the face of FIFA rules which have always allowed and accommodated players born in the North to play for Trapattoni’s Ireland.

Thousands of Ireland fans from the North will make the trip to the Aviva stadium this evening to cheer on the ‘Boys In Green’ and despite the partisan uttering’s of Nigel Worthington and the clearly political comments from IFA supporters on the issue, perhaps the best advocates that reflect why we support and follow our country is from the words of Ireland international players born in the North of Ireland who currently play under Giovanni Trapattoni:

Marc Wilson “It’s the best honour you can get to represent your country – it’s always been a dream of mine to play for Ireland”

Darron Gibson “It was unbelievable you know, making the debut for your country. Everyone from Derry wants to play for Ireland. I grew up supporting Ireland, so it was a natural choice for me”

Shane Duffy "I’ve always supported the Republic since I was a young kid, It’s a dream come true for me"

No further comment is necessary, simply Irish and proud to represent and follow the Irish international team. Come On You Boys In Green

Monday, May 23, 2011

Trapattoni names starting eleven against North

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his team for tomorrow night's Carling Cup clash against Nigel Worthington's IFA side.

A number of players have already been ruled out including Anthony Stokes, Ciaran Clark and Caleb Folan because of injury, while those involved in the Champions League final and the play-offs also wont feature.

Ireland team:

given, mcshane, kelly, delaney, wilson, coleman or lawrence, andrews, fahey or foley, treacy, keane, cox

Friday, May 20, 2011

Coleman scoops young player of the year award

Irish international Seamus Coleman scooped the Everton Young Player of the Season award at the BT convention centre in Liverpool last night

Having broken into the first team last season, the Donegal born Irishman has made massive progress since making his full Premier League debut at Fulham in September, making 39 appearances and scoring six goals.

The Killybegs winger received his award from Phil Jagielka and Leon Osman and declared: “I’m shocked. A couple of years ago I didn’t think I’d even be at Everton, let alone winning a young player of the year award.

Everyone’s been great with me since I came over, the fans and everyone in the first team squad. I’m delighted.”

Speaking after the award ceremony Toffee’s boss David Moyes said: "Seamus did tremendously well at Blackpool last season and he's given us something fresh and new this year. He's been great and, with what we've seen, we hope he'll be able to step up again."

Coleman is expected to be in the starting line-up when Everton conclude their Premiership campaign at home to Chelsea on Sunday

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paul George finishes season on a high

County Down born Ireland U17 international Paul George capped off a wonderful individual display and season as Celtic’s Under-17s lifted the Glasgow Cup for the first time in three years with a 1-0 victory over Rangers at Parkhead last week.

The Killough striker scored the only goal of the game in the 55th minute with a fine finish after being set up by Darnell Fisher.

The win came in front of a crowd of around 4000 that included first-team boss Neil Lennon and his assistants Alan Thompson and Garry Parker.

George signed a three year deal with Celtic last summer and has already made an appearance for the first-team, coming on as a substitute in a friendly match with AZ Alkmaar at the end of last season.

George has also made an immediate impact for Ireland at international level scoring two goals as ‘The Boys In Green’ narrowly failed to make the European U17 finals in March, losing out after Denmark scored a late equaliser in their final game against Latvia.

Speaking at the time of George's contract announcement, Celtic Head of Youth, Chris McCart said:
“Paul is a player we have had over here for two years now. He has settled into Scotland and is the type of player that is an entertainer. He has very good skills, but is also dedicated and hard-working too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ireland squad for international games named

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has announced a provisional 33 man selection from which a squad will be chosen to face Nigel Worthington's IFA team on May 24 and Scotland on May 29 in the Carling Nations Cup followed by the Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia on June 4.

Ireland squad

Given (Man City), Westwood (Coventry), Forde (Millwall); Dunne (Aston Villa), O'Shea (Man Utd), Foley (Wolves), Delaney (Ipswich), Clark (Aston Villa), Coleman (Everton), Kilbane (Huddersfield), Kelly (Fulham), McShane (Hull); McCarthy (Wigan), Whelan (Stoke), Wilson (Stoke), Gibson (Man Utd), McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Fahey (Birmingham), Lawrence (Portsmouth), Treacy (Preston), Hunt (Wolves), Ward (Wolves); Keogh (Wolves), Stokes (Celtic) Folan (Colorado Rapids), Walters (Stoke), Keane (West Ham), Long (Reading).

Provisional call-ups subject to fitness: St Ledger (Preston), Duff (Fulham), O'Dea (Ipswich), Andrews (Blackburn), Doyle (Wolves)