Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ireland squad for Estonia play-off

Giovanni Trapattoni has included Shane Long in his 26-man Ireland squad to face Estonia in the Euro 2012 play-offs next month.

West Brom ruled Long out for 'up to six weeks' after he was injured by Alan Hutton's two-footed lunge during the first half of their 2-1 Premier League win at Villa Park.

However, Long believes he has a chance of proving his fitness and so has been included in the squad. Robbie Keane is expected to be fit.

Ireland travel to Talinn for the first leg on 11 November and play the return at Lansdowne Road on 15 November.

Making the announcement, the Irish boss Trap said: "There is no room for complacency as we prepare for our two games next month. We will remember that Estonia have as much right to be in the play-off as ourselves.

"They have had some very good results in their group beating Serbia and Slovenia. They also caused Italy a lot of problems. These games will be a huge challenge for us, and we must maintain the correct mentality from start to finish."

Ireland squad for the EURO 2012 play-off against Estonia on 11 and 15 November:

Shay Given, Keiren Westwood, David Forde, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Ward, Richard Dunne, John O'Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Darren O'Dea, Paul McShane, Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Keith Andrews, Keith Fahey, Darron Gibson, Andy Keogh, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Stephen Hunt, Liam Lawrence, Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Simon Cox. Jon Walters.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ireland supporters podcast Part 2 available online

Click HERE to listen

This is episode 2 in our series as excitement builds ahead of the playoff clash with Estonia. On this epsiode, two dedicated Irish supporters join us to give their views.

We have John from, a Raheny man looking forward to jetting off to Tallinn. We also have Paul from, a Rossie living in London.

We discuss:

0.00 Introduction

3.20 Players discussed on - Darren O’Dea

4.10 Sean St Ledger

5.00 Trapattoni not looking at club form of Irish players ( Leon Best, Marc Wilson)

16.00 Formations and Wes Hoolahan

18.00 Estonia

22.10 discussion about plastic paddy’s (Kevin Nolan, Jamie Noble, Jamie O’Hara)

28.00 Go Green on November 15th Campaign

The show is by the fans and for the fans and if you want to get involved you can mail us as

Friday, October 21, 2011

Conor Henderson commits to Gunners

Ireland Under 21 international Conor Henderson has signed a new Arsenal contract to commit his long term future to the Gunners.

Henderson has yet to make the breakthrough into the first team at the Emirates Stadium but is rated extremely highly by club bosses.

The midfielder was a regular for the reserves last term and travelled with Arsene Wenger's senior squad for the pre-season trip to Germany, only to suffer a knee injury that has kept him sidelined for the past few months.

Henderson was handed his first professional contract with the gunners in 2008, with the left footed central midfield player instantly impressing the management with his ball skill and strength.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long keen to secure Irish play-off start

Irish striker Shane Long has set his sights on forcing his way in Ireland's starting line-up for the crucial Euro 2012 play-off games against Estonia.

Long was a surprise ommission for the decisive group match with Estonia in Dublin last week, which saw Ireland secure a runners-up spot.

But the suspension of Kevin Doyle for the first leg of the play-off, and doubts over the fitness of Robbie Keane, have given Long an extra incentive ahead of next month's fixtures.

Long was again man-of-the-match for West Brom during Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolves at the Hawthorns.

He said: "It was disappointing not to play against Armenia but it was the right result.

"We now have Estonia in the play-offs and hopefully we can get to the Euros and make it a good summer next year.

"There are a lot of games for West Brom before that so hopefully I can stake my claim in those games.

"People say I've got a great chance to start with Kevin Doyle suspended and Robbie Keane injured.

"Kevin is missing and I would like to think I am a natural replacement for him.

"But I thought I may start the last game as well, and it wasn't to be, so we will have to see what happens.

"Hopefully I can keep doing what I am doing here at West Brom, keep putting in performances, and the Irish manager will take note.

"The manager didn't say why I didn't play against Armenia. He just told me I was on the bench and to make sure to be ready if I was needed."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ireland v Estonia in Euro play-off's.

Estonia stand between Ireland and a place in the Euro 2012 finals following today's play-off draw in Krakow.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side will be away in the first leg on either Friday, 11 November/Saturday 12 November, with the return tie at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, 15 November.

Estonia have never reached the finals of a major tournament, and this is Tarmo Ruutli's side's first play-off appearance.

The other pairings see Turkey take on Croatia; the Czech Republic will play Montenegro, while Portugal will face Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Former Ireland striker John Aldridge has backed the team to beat Estonia and qualify for the finals.

Asked if he thought Trapattoni's side would go through, he told Sky Sports News: "Yes. We've got the greatest travelling fans and it would be great to see them on the road again."

"We travel better than we play at home, we've had better results away than we have had at home."

Aldridge added on his hopes for the first leg: "They will try to get a clean sheet, try to get a win which would set us up nicely."

Aldridge admitted the suspension of striker Kevin Doyle, still waiting to hear the length of his punishment after being sent off in the qualifier against Armenia on Tuesday which the Republic won 2-1, would be a blow to the team's chances.

However, he backed Shane Long to fill the breach.

"Shane Long has done really well when he has deputised for either Robbie (Keane) or Kevin so it's a great opportunity for him."

Ireland and Estonia have met twice before, in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

The Irish, then under Mick McCarthy`s management, won both games 2-0, with defender Richard Dunne, a scorer against Armenia, on target in each match.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UEFA confirm Ireland seeded for play-offs

UEFA have confirmed that Ireland will be seeded for the Euro 2012 play-off draw alongside Portugal, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Giovanni Trapattoni's 'Boys In Green' are the third highest ranked side out of the eight play-off qualifiers in UEFA's coefficient list.

Ireland will now face Montenegro, Turkey, Estonia or Bosnia and Herzegovina in the two-legged play-off.

Thursday's draw for the UEFA EURO 2012 play-offs takes place in Krakow, Poland.

Ireland through to Euro play-offs

Ireland secured a Euro 2012 play-off spot after a dramatic 2-1 win over Armenia, but it came at a price as Kevin Doyle was sent-off in the second half.

The striker is now certain to miss the first leg of the play-offs and will need some generosity from UEFA to avoid a two-game ban.

With injured skipper Robbie Keane struggling to make next month's double header, Ireland's striking options are limited for their biggest game in two years.

However, Giovanni Trapattoni will take some comfort from a fine performance by Keane's replacement Simon Cox.

Cox's inclusion over Shane Long had prompted much talk and he had the chance to repay his manager's faith after ten minutes.

Doyle flicked on for Cox, who turned well but was crowded out as he tried to shoot. Doyle fired straight at Berezovsky when the ball came his way.

At the other end, Ireland's defence was cut open by Marcos Pizzelli's pass. Shay Given was happy to see Yura Movisyan's heavy touch push the ball wide.

Ireland were given a huge boost just before the half hour mark, as Berezovsky was sent-off for handling Cox's lob outside the box.

McGeady was instrumental as Ireland doubled their lead through Dunne. The winger danced away from his markers to cross. Petrosyan flapped at the ball and Dunne knocked it into the net.

Armenia were rewarded for their efforts as they caught Ireland napping to get back in the game. Mkhitaryan was given too much space and fired low, although Given will feel he should have done better with the shot.

The game became stretched as Armenia pushed for an equaliser, which left gaps at the back. Duff found McGeady in space but he hesitated and was quickly closed down.

Doyle compounded a disappointing evening by picking up a second yellow card when he caught Karlen Mkrtchyan with his elbow.

Jonathan Walters' impressive late cameo will have done little to harm his chances of starting that play-off first leg, alongside man-of-the-match Cox.

Ireland: 1 Given; 4 O'Shea, 2 St Ledger, 5 Dunne, 3 Kelly; 7 McGeady (15 Hunt 68), 6 Whelan (17 Fahey '76), 8 Andrews, 11 Duff; 9 Doyle, 10 Cox (13 Walters '80).

Subs not used: 16 Westwood, 12 Coleman, 14 Long, 18 O'Dea.

Booked: St Ledger, McGeady, Doyle.

Sent-off: Doyle.

Armenia: 1 Berezovsky; 4 Hovsepyan, 15 Mkoyan, 16 Aleksanyan, 20 Hayrapetyan; 9 Malkyan (23 Petrosyan 29'), 6 Mkrtchyan; 10 Ghazaryan (11 Sarkisov '62), 8 Pizzelli (22 Manucharyan '53), 18 Mkhitaryan; 14 Movsisyan.

Subs not used: 21 Badoyan, 17 Artak Edigaryan, 7 Artur Edigaryan, 3 Yuspashyan.

Booked: Petrosyan.

Sent-off: Berezovsky.

Attendance: 45,200

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ireland team to play Armenia

Simon Cox will start in attack alongside Kevin Doyle for Ireland in tomorrow's vital Euro 2012 qualifier with Armenia in the Aviva Stadium. It was widely expected that in-form West Brom striker Shane Long would partner doyle, in the event of Robbie Keane failing his fitness battle.

Stephen Kelly comes in for the suspended Stephen Ward.

Richard Dunne returns from his ban to the Irish central defence with Darren O'Dea dropping out.

Ireland team to play Armenia:

Shay Given, Stephen Kelly, Sean St Ledger, Richard Dunne, John O'Shea, Aidan McGeady, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle, Simon Cox.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Keane a major doubt for Armenia game

Ireland skipper Robbie Keane is being given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of Tuesday night's Euro 2012 showdown with Armenia in Dublin.

The 31-year-old Dublin born striker is a major doubt for the game at the Aviva Stadium which will decide Ireland's Group B fate as they attempt to secure a play-off berth.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday revealed Keane was to undergo a scan on a sore abductor muscle, and it was later confirmed that his chances of making the game were minimal.

Today it emerged the problem is actually an adductor muscle injury, and while assistant manager Marco Tardelli was refusing to rule the Los Angeles Galaxy frontman out of a fixture in which his country need to avoid defeat to finish second in the group, the chances of him playing appear to be slim.

Tardelli said: "Robbie has a little problem, but we are hopeful he will recover. It will be very difficult, but we are hopeful.

"It's the same problem he had after the last match in Los Angeles.

"Yesterday, he had a scan and he has a little problem - a big problem, not a little problem."

Asked to put a percentage on Keane's chances, Tardelli said: "I don't know. It is better to ask the doctor. There is very little possibility that he will recover, but we are hopeful."

But asked further if he would have been able to play had the game been today amid suggestions he could be sidelined for a fortnight, he added: "No, no, I don't think so."

Keane and his team-mates endured a gruelling trip back from Friday night's 2-0 victory in Andorra, which involved a three-hour coach journey from the Pyrenean principality to Barcelona and then a delayed flight of almost the same length, eventually arriving back in Dublin shortly before 7am yesterday.

Those members of the squad who played at the Estadi Comunal were rested from an open training session at Tallaght Stadium yesterday afternoon, but the bulk of them, Keane excepted, were back in action at a windswept Gannon Park in Malahide this morning.

Among them was Stoke striker Jonathan Walters, who met up with his colleagues on their return after missing the trip to Andorra with an ankle injury.

He and West Brom pair Shane Long and Simon Cox are the leading candidates to partner Kevin Doyle in a new-look front two if Keane does indeed miss out.

All three have impressed for their country in the recent past with Long in particular having established himself as a genuine option for Trapattoni's starting line-up.

However, Tardelli was giving little away today.

He said: "We have many options. We have Walters, Long, Cox - we have many options.

"We are confident in all our players. We have different solutions, but we will wait and see tomorrow."

Richard Dunne will also be available once again after serving a one-match ban in Friday's game, although left-back Stephen Ward will replace him on the sidelines after picking up his second yellow card of the campaign in Andorra.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Andorra 0 Ireland 2

Kevin Doyle's 10th international goal set Ireland on the road to a comfortable victory in Andorra as Giovanni Trapattoni's men completed the first half of their European mission.

Doyle's seventh-minute strike gave Ireland an advantage they never threatened to surrender and when defender Ildefons Lima deflected Aiden McGeady's shot into his own net 13 minutes later, the points were effectively safe.

Russia's victory in Slovakia means they will win Group B if they beat the Andorrans at home on Tuesday evening, but a draw with Armenia will be enough to send the Republic into the Euro 2012 play-offs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trapattoni names Ireland team for Andorra qualifier

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has named his team for Friday's Euro 2012 Group 2 qualifier with Andorra.

John O'Shea replaces Stephen Kelly with Sean St Ledger coming in for the suspended Richard Dunne from Ireland's last game in Russia.

Trapattoni has resisted the temptation to bring Keith Fahey into the midfield after he hinted at using the Birmingham midfielder in training earlier this week.

Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews start in the middle of the park.

Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady continue on the wings with Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle leading the Republic attack.

Ireland team to play Andorra:

Shay Given, John O'Shea, Sean St Ledger, Darren O'Dea, Stephen Ward, Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Aidan McGeady, Kevin Doyle, Robbie Keane.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hodgson hails Shane Long Premiership start

West Bromwich manager Roy Hodgson believes club record signing Shane Long will prove to be the Barclays Premier League’s bargain buy of the season.

The Ireland international met up in Dublin with his Ireland team-mates yesterday ahead of this week’s crucial Euro 2012 qualifiers against Andorra and Armenia, 24 hours after scoring his third goal since his £5million summer move from Reading.

It was Long's first since opening the season with goals against Manchester United and Chelsea, and a welcome boost ahead of a critical week for his country in which he will be under additional pressure to score the goals which could take Ireland to the finals in Ukraine and Poland

Hodgson was delighted with the Tipperary born players' overall contribution and was keen to remind supporters that the 23-year-old has been signed as a player for the future, who just happens to have been thrust into the top flight, and international football, ahead of the normal schedule.

Hodgson said: 'I don't think we paid a lot for potential. The figures quoted are wrong, I am not saying how much it was but I have seen the quotes. He might be the bargain of the year as it turns out.

'He came from Ireland where he was playing hurling, then at 17 he went straight into Reading and became a star player within two or three years.

He got into the Irish national team and then into the Premier League, so it is a meteoric rise and we are talking about a young lad of 23/24 who started very late and is still to some extent learning the game.

'I am not at all surprised it has taken time for him to settle, in fact it has taken less time than I thought with what the Premier League is.

'He had a flying start with a goal against Manchester United and today his all-round play was very good, his target play was good and he was a threat in front and behind defender, rarely gave the ball away and of course his work rate is outstanding.

Hodgson consulted Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni as part of the long process of adding Long to his squad.

He saw off interest from Premier League rivals Newcastle and Stoke, and the lure of better wages, plus the prospect of top flight football after a promotion season in the Championship with West Ham or Leicester.

The experienced Hodgson also promoted the cause of West Brom striker Simon Cox before his successful summer call-up.

Cox has only started two games for his club, both in the Carling Cup, and did score against Bournemouth. He has just two substitute appearances to his name.

Hodgson revealed the fourth striker in Trapattoni’s squad, who is keeping out Newcastle’s in-form Leon Best, came close to a third at the Stadium of Light.
He said: 'I have a relationship with Giovanni and where he was exceptionally good was in transfer deadline week.

'It took a long while to get the Long transfer through and he had actually joined up with the Ireland squad but Giovanni was very good and let him spend the day with us and complete his medical.

'It suits Ireland to have him playing in the Premier League and with Doyle, Long and Keane and Cox as well. They look strong.

'Simon was in good form and was unlucky not to get on today and under normal circumstances I would have put him on with Peter not at his best but I didn't want to destroy Peter and was hoping he would produce a bit of magic late in the game. But I was wrong on that one.'