Wednesday, June 12, 2013

spirited Ireland go down to world champions

Spain defeated Ireland 2-0 in a friendly international at Yankee Stadium New York early this morning.

As expected the reigning World and European champions controlled the majority of possession early in the game but an Ireland team missing six first team regulars, defended well and grew into the game as it progressed.

Pedro went close just before half-time, after showing excellent skill in the box to create space for a shot, but his rasping effort came back off the underside of the bar.

Conor Sammon had Ireland’s best chance in the first half, when after stealing possession from the Spanish defender he shot wide from a tight angle inside the box.

Spain continued to press the Irish defence after the break, but struggled to create many clear-cut goal scoring opportunities, while Ireland’s defence remained solid, determined and focused.

The pressure however eventually told on 69 minutes though when Soldado swivelled and shot into the bottom left hand corner after the ball broke to him in the box.

There was further disappointment for Ireland after 80 minutes when Sean St Ledger had the ball in the Spanish net, only to see it disallowed for offside.James McClean also had a great strike saved by Iker Casillas following a typically strong run.

Spain grabbed a late second on 88 minutes when Juan Mata shot past Ireland sub keeper Darren Randolph.

Overall a gutsy, organised performance from an understrength Ireland against the World Champions, and plenty for Trapattoni to build on for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria in September.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trapattoni names eleven to face Spain

Giovanni Trapattoni has named his starting eleven for tomorrow night's clash with world champions Spain at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Connor Sammon will partner Robbie Keane in attack.
Everton's Seamus Coleman moves into midfield for the New York clash with Paul McShane slotting into the back four alongside Sean St Ledger, Darren O'Dea and Stephen Kelly.

Coleman will start on the right side of midfield with Jeff Hendrick making his first start for Ireland in the centre of the park. James McCarthy returns from suspension to partner Hendrick, while Andy Keogh makes up the midfield four.

The inclusion of Andy Keogh on the left wing looks like another of Trapattoni's bizarre selections, with winger James McClean missing out again to a player not associated with the left wing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Depleted Ireland fly to New York for Spain clash

Giovanni Trapattoni's depleted Ireland squad travelled to New York yesterday for a friendly clash with Spain, minus a number of senior players who have been excused for various reasons.

Marc Wilson (operation), Jon Walters (knee), Aiden McGeady (wedding), Wes Hoolahan (foot), Keiren Westwood (shoulder), Richard Dunne (speaking to clubs about his future), John O’Shea (bereavement) and Glenn Whelan (rest) will not make the trip to play Spain on Tuesday night.

Captain Robbie Keane, who scored a hat-trick in Ireland's 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands, leads the Ireland squad into the Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

Ireland squad: David Forde, Darren Randolph, Aaron McCarey, Sean St Ledger, Seamus Coleman, Damien Delaney, Darren O’Dea, Paul Mc Shane, Stephen Kelly, Richard Keogh, James Mc Clean, David Meyler, James McCarthy, Andy Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Quinn, Simon Cox, Conor

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Keane Hat-Trick secures World Cup qualifying win

Ireland captain Robbie Keane celebrated his record breaking 126th international cap with a hat-trick as Ireland defeated the Faroe Islands 3-0 in a Group C World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

The LA Galaxy striker opened the scoring after five minutes following some excellent build-up play by Wes Hoolahan and Aiden McGeady, before adding his second in the 55th minute, getting on the end of a Seamus Coleman cross.

And the third goal arrived nine minutes from time as Keane rounded off a fine man of the match performance with a neat finish following an exquisite pass from substitute Conor Sammon.

Giovanni Trapattoni labelled Robbie Keane the best Irish player he has seen in 30 years after the striker's hat-trick earned Ireland a World Cup qualifying victory over the Faroe Islands.

He said: "I particularly wish to congratulate our captain because for 30 years, I have known the Irish team and the Irish players and for me, he is the best Irish player I have known in 30 years.

"I wish to congratulate him because he scored. At the moment, he is in good form, but I repeat what I said yesterday, he is also one of the best players in Europe."

Trapattoni and his players head for New York tomorrow for Tuesday's friendly against Spain, although Shane Long and McGeady will not be travelling because both are to be married, while Marc Wilson is due to have surgery to remove a metal plate from his leg.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Keane at the double as Ireland defeat Georgia

Robbie Keane celebrated his record-equalling 125th cap with two goals as Ireland ran out easy 4-0 winners over Georgia.

The game turned in the 20th minute when Georgia had goalkeeper Giorgi Loria sent off for bringing down Shane Long after he was sold short by a backpass, and from there on Ireland had it relatively easy as they prepare for next Friday's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

Keane came on as a substitute at half-time to move level with Shay Given on 125 caps, and he soon added his 55th and 56th international goals, adding to strikes from Richard Keogh - his first for Ireland - and Simon Cox.

"Of course it's always nice to score goals as a striker," Keane told Sky Sports. "It's very important for the confidence.

"I felt a bit sorry for them with the red card, it was a shame and it killed the tempo of the game.
"We wanted a bit of a test before next week's game but it gives us confidence."

Asked about the caps milestone, he added: "If you asked me 10 years ago would I get this many caps, I'd say you were crazy."

"I'm obviously delighted and it’s something I can look back on in years to come but at the moment I just hope to get a few more."

With Keane starting among the substitutes, Shane Long captained the side for the first time as he is suspended for Friday's qualifier.

"It's an unbelievable honour," he said. "At half-time I offered Robbie the band but he said, 'No, it's your night, you keep it'. I'm delighted, it's a big honour and it's nice to get a win.

"It would have been nice to get a goal as well but that's the way it goes."

Long will now leave the Irish camp due to his suspension.

"It's a shame," he added. "I would really like to play alongside Robbie next week but I managed to pick up two yellow cards so I'm going to miss it and instead I'm going to get married in a couple of weeks."

Ireland face the Faroe Islands on Friday night and after an encouraging week of friendlies - a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley followed by today's easy win - Keane is eager to make it count.

"If gives you confidence and it's important to win games," he said. "Next week against the Faroes people expect us to win the game and really we should, but to be honest we can't take it too lightly.

"You have to give the teams a lot of respect and do it in the right way on the pitch. Hopefully we get the three points. It's been a very good week for the players but the main game is next week. These two games mean nothing apart from pride."