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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 23 February, 2018
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A VERY HAPPY Good Friday to you all and welcome along to this evening’s friendly international between Ireland and Switzerland.

With their place at Euro 2016 assured, Martin O’Neill has a couple of games in Dublin this week to get another at his options before he chooses a final 23-man squad to fly to France at the end of May.

First up for the Boys in Green is Switzerland before the visit of Slovakia on Tuesday. Kick off is 7.45pm.

The teams are in and, as per usual, O’Neill has caught most people out with his selection.

While West Ham’s Darren Randolph is retained in goal, Seamus Coleman captains the side in a defence that also features Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark, Shane Duffy of Blackburn Rovers and Norwich’s versatile Robbie Brady.

It’s just Duffy’s second senior cap after his debut back in June 2014 — when Ireland drew 1-1 with Costa Rica.

In midfield, the big news is that Brentford’s Alan Judge, who has 14 goals and 10 assists for the Championship club this season, makes his debut at this level. The 27-year-old is joined by Hull City midfielder David Meyler, Reading’s Stephen Quinn and Aiden McGeady, who’s on-loan at Sheffield Wednesday from Everton.

There’s a rare start for Colorado Rapids striker Kevin Doyle, who earns his first cap since October 2014, and he’s alongside former Reading team-mate Shane Long (these days with Southampton) up front.

IRELAND: Randolph, Coleman (c), Duffy, Clark, Brady, Judge, Meyler, Quinn, McGeady, Long, Doyle.

 

SWITZERLAND: Sommer, Klose, Lang, Embolo, Seferovic, Xhaka, Behrami, Rodriguez, Dzemaili, Mehmedi, Schar.

The pubs may be closed, but the pints are flowing in Dublin 4 as the stadium is serving alcohol this evening.

Sure where would you get it?!

A view of alcoholic drink being served at the Aviva on Good Friday Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

As it’s the weekend that marks one hundred years since the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916 is a theme that can be seen clearly around the game.

Tonight’s match programme features Irish Volunteer Oscar Traynor, while there were even selling Easter Rising scarves outside the stadium.

Talk about cashing in…

Screenshot 2016-03-25 at 19.27.21

Both teams are out onto the pitch and they’re being greeted by President Michael D Higgins. Looks like a low enough turn-out at the moment but, in saying that, there could be a few lads still at the bar.

51Mins

Students from Trinity Comprehensive in Ballymun have just read out a passage of the Proclamation of Independence.

Now there’s a moment’s applause for the victims of the recent Buncrana tragedy as well as former Derry City striker Mark Farren, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, Anthony Fogarty and Pat Whitty.

Right, let’s go. It’s a big opportunity for a number of players to impress tonight so hopefully there’s a good tempo to the game.

Flag 2Mins

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Switzerland (Ciaran Clark) 

WHAT A START! Ireland win a couple of corners, Brady crosses to Duffy, who rises highest and Clark nods the ball into the back of the net.

Ciaran Clark scores a goal Clark heads home. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

6Mins

First chance for Judge to get on the ball and he puts in a decent cross. Yann Sommer comes to collect, however.

Ireland have begun in a 4-4-2 with Quinn partnering Meyler in midfielder, McGeady out left, Judge on the right and Long partnering Doyle in attack.

8Mins

Good play from the Swiss with Behrami finding space down the right, which leads to Dzemaili shooting well over from 20 yards out.

10Mins

FC Basel teenager Breel Embolo goes on a positive run and attempts to pick out a team-mate in the box.

It needs a really timely interception from Duffy, who gets himself back to guide the ball back to Randolph.

11Mins

An Ireland corner is sent to the front post and Doyle looks to flick the ball towards goal but can only find the side-netting.

13Mins

Seferovic takes possession inside Ireland’s box and swivels to shoot off-target. The visitors do look dangerous when they attack.

15Mins

CLOSE! Seferovic gets above both Clark and Duffy to glance a header just over from a corner.

17Mins

Another Swiss corner and Lang makes good contact to nod it at goal, where Randolph collects with ease.

21Mins

This doesn’t look good. Doyle has signalled to the bench that he needs to be substituted. He appears to be in some pain.

24Mins

The stretcher is now out for Doyle. Terrible luck as he had started really brightly. Let’s hope it doesn’t put the Wexford man out of action for too long.

Ipswich Town’s Daryl Murphy is about to enter the fray.

Kevin Doyle injured Doyle on the ground. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

26Mins

SUBSTITUTION — The first of the night. Doyle off, Murphy on.

33Mins

Xhaka’s shot from distance is deflected off Seferovic and Randolph has to adjust his feet to get behind it.

38Mins

CROSSBAR! Ireland take a free-kick quickly and McGeady then sends Coleman down the wing. The Everton man checks inside onto his left under pressure from Rodriguez and clips a cross into the danger zone.

Long glances on and sees his effort come back out off the crossbar. He has a second go at it but can’t get enough power in it and the chance is gone.

40Mins

YELLOW CARD! Dzemaili goes into referee Miroslav Zelinka’s book for a dive in the box.

42Mins

Brady’s corner hits the back post, where Judge heads well off-target. Looks like he took his eye off the ball.

Down the other end, Dzemaili fires wildly into the South Stand.

45Mins

Four minutes of additional time to play…

Flag 49Mins

Half-time: Ireland 1-0 Switzerland 

Mark Lawrenson with Paul McGrath Two old boys: Mark Lawrenson and Paul McGrath. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

47Mins

RESTART – Second half, here we go. No changes to either side at the break, but there will no doubt be a few in the next 20 minutes.

48Mins

Murphy show strength to hold off his man after chasing down a long ball from Brady and digs out a cross but it’s just too long for partner Long.

51Mins

Swiss free-kick 20 yards out and it’s Rodriguez to take. It’s whipped to the back post and Randolph shows good hands to hold. He has been assured tonight, surely Ireland’s number one for Euro 2016 fitness-permitting.

54Mins

We’ve just been informed that the official attendance on the night is 35,450 for those wondering.

56Mins

Dzemaili slides in Embolo but Clark comes across to make a super last-ditch challenge. Both he and Duffy have looked solid tonight.

59Mins

Mehmedi cuts inside and lashes the ball at goal, but it ends up closer to the corner flag.

Meanwhile, it looks like James McCarthy and Eunan O’Kane are about to be introduced.

59Mins

BOOKING – Xhaka chops down Quinn and is rightly shown a yellow card.

62Mins

TRIPLE CHANGE – Here come O’Kane, McCarthy and Jonny Hayes. It’s Aberdeen wingers Hayes’ senior debut for Ireland.

Being withdrawn are Meyler, McGeady and Quinn.

And Switzerland have brought on FC Basel’s Renato Steffan for Seferovic.

67Mins

Header on goal from Dzemaili and once again Randolph has it under control.

70Mins

Switzerland try to unlock the Ireland defence through Embolo but, not for the first time, Duffy gets a foot on the ball to send it back to Randolph.

74Mins

SWISS SUBSTITUTIONS – Manager Vladimir Petkovic makes three changes of his own with Dzemaili, Mehmedi and Behrami off for Gelson Fernandes, Pajtim Kasami and Shani Tarashaj.

76Mins

Jonny Hayes’ Aberdeen team-mate Adam Rooney, who would have been involved in this squad had it not been for an injury, has just tweeted to congratulate him:

79Mins

CHANGES ON BOTH SIDES – Murphy makes way for Wes Hoolahan and J-Francois Moubandje replaces Rodriguez.

82Mins

ANOTHER SWISS SUB - Silvan Widmer in, Lang out.

84Mins

CLOSE! Swiss sub Tarashaj shoots from the edge of the box and rolls just outside Randolph’s post after Coleman should have cleared his lines.

And James McClean has just arrived into the game in place of Long.

85Mins

O’Kane and Duffy are the other two.

91Mins

Super chance for O’Kane after a poor pass from Kasami. The Bournemouth man looks to find the bottom corner, but it’s the wrong side of the post.

92Mins

Man-of-the-match has gone to Shane Duffy, and I’d agree wholeheartedly. The Blackburn defender hasn’t put a foot wrong tonight, while defensive partner Clark has also been excellent.

90Mins

So it’s a win in the first of Ireland’s double-header at the Aviva. In terms of a spectacle, the game was a poor one but it was a solid display overall.

Of the new players who came in, Judge was unable to really get going despite his hard work, while Hayes was busy when he came on but it’s difficult to see either doing enough to make the Euro 2016 squad.

Duffy, meanwhile, will have given O’Neill something to think about with his fine performance.

Attentions now turn to Tuesday, when Slovakia are the opponents.

Thanks as always for joining me.

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