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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 22 June, 2018


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Welcome to an evening that Irish football fans have been waiting for since last November.

It’s Ireland v Wales, live from the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Kick off in the Group D World Cup Qualifier is at 7.45pm.

We’ve got the weather, now let’s hope we get the game to match.

TEAM NEWS: The Irish team is in — and James McCarthy is fit to start.

Ireland: Randolph, Coleman (c), Keogh, O’Shea, Ward, Whelan, McCarthy, McClean, Hendrick, Walters, Long.

What do you make of that XI?

WALES: Hennessey, Gunter, Taylor, Davies, Chester, Williams (c), Allen, Robson-Kanu, Ramsey, Bale, Ledley.

Meanwhile, over in Tbilisi, it’s Georgia 1-2 Serbia – Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic with the goals for the visitors.

Still 15 minutes to play though and if Georgia could snatch an equaliser, it would make Group D very interesting indeed.

RESULT: In Tbilisi, it has finished Georgia 1-3 Serbia… so, as thing stand, Serbia have gone top of Group D on 11 points with Ireland a point behind having played a game less.

screenshot.1490382891.74456 Source:

Gareth Bale is smiling for now – but how will he be feeling come 9.30pm?

Gareth Bale ahead of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It has been an emotional week for Irish football following the sudden death of Derry City captain Ryan McBride at the age of just 27 last weekend.

McBride will be remembered in a number of ways this evening, not least by his friend James McClean who has asked to wear this number five jersey this evening as a tribute.


Just over 15 minutes to kick off. If you’re looking for some pre-match reading to keep your mind off the nerves, here’s Tommy Martin’s column, complete with Only Fools and Horses reference.

AND SO MARTIN O’Neill opens his fridge, rummages around and tries to rustle up another World Cup qualifying stir fry.

This time, things don’t look too promising – all he’s got in there is half a green pepper, some mouldy Gorgonzola and a can of Tuborg – but then Republic of Ireland XIs have rarely been haute cuisine.

Still, add the suspended Robbie Brady to the crocked Wes Hoolahan, Harry Arter, Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, Daryl Murphy and, possibly yet, James McCarthy for tonight’s game against Wales and you wonder if O’Neill might be tempted to ring for a takeaway.

There’s not exactly unbridled optimism in this morning’s pre-match poll either. With over 4,500 votes cast, 45% of you reckon we’re in for a draw.



BREAKING: Late change to the Irish starting XI – James McCarthy is out and David Meyler is in. McCarthy, who was an injury doubt all week, reportedly pulled up in the warm up.

Lovely gesture from our Welsh visitors to mark the tragic death of Ryan McBride, presenting President Michael D Higgins with a number five jersey.

Now, the anthems…

Before kick-off, we’ll have a moment’s applause in memory of Ryan McBride, Milo Corcoran and Ray Brady.


KICK OFF: Shane Long gets us underway.


1 min – From the kick off, Ireland welly it forward, Williams heads it clear, and Glenn Whelan rolls back the years to 2009 and tries to fizz a 25-yard screamer into the top corner.

He doesn’t succeed.


2 mins – Stephen Ward lays down an early marker, clattering into Chris Gunter as he tried to skip by him and go down the line. Welcome to Dublin, son.


3 mins – Bale clips the free into the box, O’Shea gets up first to clear but his header only drops as far as Ramsey on the edge of the box. He hooks it back towards the Irish goal but Randolph is there to claim.


4 mins – BAM! James McClean, on an emotional night for him in particular, slides in and nicks the ball away from Gareth Bale. The Aviva crowd roars in appreciation.


5 mins – Applause ripples around the Aviva Stadium in the fifth minute in memory of Ryan McBride.

James McClean wearing the number 5 shirt in memory of Derry City captain Ryan McBride Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


8 mins – Now it’s Meyler who is on the scene to disrupt the Welsh attack. Back to Hennessy and they’ve to start to build again.


12 mins — Jon Walters gets up ahead of Ashley Williams and wins the header to flick on towards Long. He’s cleaved from behind by Williams though, and it will be an Irish free.

Whelan flicks it to the back post but Keogh is penalised for climbing all over his man.

Richard Keogh with Chris Gunter Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO


15 mins – Good period of Welsh pressure, their best of the match so far, but Ireland stand firm. Allen has plenty of time to pick his pass in midfield and floats a pass towards Bale. He heads it back into the danger area but O’Shea reacts quickest to clear.


17 mins – The early possession stats are in, and Wales have had 59% of the ball to Ireland’s 41%.


18 mins – Jon Walters gets a telling off from our Italian ref Nicola Rizzoli. He got to the ball ahead of Joe Allen and tried to nudge it past him and buy the foul, but just ended up going down under minimal, if any, contact. Tut tut.


20 mins – Half a chance for an Irish break but as McClean tries to hold it up and allow his team-mates to get up in support, he runs smack bang into Joe Allen.


22 mins – Aaron Ramsey comes over towards the Welsh bench where he gets a bit of strapping on his thigh. We’ll keep an eye on him.


23 mins – First real flash of brilliance from Gareth Bale. Wales lull Ireland into a false sense of security as they knock the ball around in midfield, and then Bale pivots and plays a beautiful diagonal to set Neil Taylor free. It’s just too long for Taylor but Coleman had played him a mile onside.


26 mins – Ramsey swings in a good corner and Randolph has to fight his way through a lot of bodies as he tries to get there. He’s fouled by Hal Robson-Kanu along the way and it’s an Irish free out.


30 mins – Half an hour in and Ireland haven’t been able to show a huge amount in attack so far — Welsh keeper Wayne Hennessy has hardly touched the ball. Instead, they focused on containing Wales, with James McClean tracking back into his own half there and reading the pass well to nick it away.


32 mins – Oooh that would have been nice. Long and Hendrick try to combine with a 1-2 on the edge of the Welsh box but the return pass from Hendrick to Long is just a smidge too heavy. Pity.


34 mins – Much better by Ireland in the last few minutes, and now they’ve won their first corner of the game. McClean whips it towards the near post and Long gets their first, but he can’t guide it past the Welsh defence.


35 mins – The Aviva Stadium is absolutely bouncing to the sounds of “Stand Up For The Boys In Green”. It sounds like a mariachi band has snuck into the ground as well tonight.

Robson-Kanu with John O'Shea and Seamus Coleman Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO


38 mins – Hendrick is bundled off the ball and just like that, Wales are coming forward with numbers to spare. Bale’s first touch on the edge of the box is heavy, and Coleman slides in to dispossess him.


39 mins – Ireland’s attacking strategy looks barely more nuanced than hoofing the ball in Shane Long’s direction to see what he can rustle up. Sure if it worked against Germany…

Shane Long with Joe Ledley Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO


42 mins – Shane Long has caught Ashley Williams with an arm to the head there, and he’s lucky not to get a yellow card for it. Williams dusts himself off and then has a quiet few words with Long.


HALF TIME: Ireland 0-0 Wales


Tempers flare just before the break as Glenn Whelan catches Stoke team-mate Joe Allen with an elbow. Whelan turned his back on Allen as they collided and caught him in the face. It looks nasty on the replays but not a yellow in the referee’s eyes.

Allen is not pleased.


Just about sums it up…


Latest from Vienna: It’s still Austria 0-0 Moldova.


SECOND HALF: One change for Wales — Sam Vokes is on to replace Hal Robson Kanu.


46 mins – Another Irish leading arm / elbow, and this time it’s worth a yellow card. Meyler crashes into Ramsey with just 15 seconds on the clock and he’s booked. That’s been coming.


47 mins – Chance for Wales. Bale finds Taylor with that long diagonal and he nods it back towards Aaron Ramsey. He can’t quite bring it under control and Coleman is able to get across him and intervene without a moment to spare.


47 mins – Wales free for an Irish handball, and it’s very much in Gareth Bale country. He gets it on target but Randolph gathers, though he does need a second bite at it to be sure.


49 mins – Bale only needs half a chance you know – and this is seriously close in the circumstances. With a flick of the left boot, he drags the ball outside Glenn Whelan and then whips a shot from an impossible angle. It’s barely more than a foot outside Randolph’s far post with the Irish keeper at full stretch.


52 mins – The action on the pitch isn’t exactly vintage but the man on the trumpet is having great craic anyway, “treating us” to an extended version of Come On You Boys In Green.


55 mins – Glenn Whelan wins Ireland a free in a dangerous position, sticking his head down low to challenge for a header, and taking Ramsey’s boot to the face. He’s pumping blood now and will need treatment.


57 mins – McClean wallops the free into the wall and in the ensuing scramble, Ireland are flagged offside.


59 mins – We’re desperate for an Irish chance here so when Long wins a header and Ireland get a corner, it’s promising.

So’s the corner — but Keogh turns his back on the chance and it come off his upper leg / arse and bobbles harmlessly wide.



61 mins – Better from Ireland as Jon Walters is clipped by Joe Allen. McClean fires the free straight into the wall and then Shane Long takes a chance but drags his shot wide.


63 mins – Half chance for Wales, and that could have been costly. Whelan misses his clearance and Vokes flashes a shot wide.


68 mins – Bale booked, and to be fair, if that was anywhere else on the pitch, it might well have been red. He was challenging for a cross and caught John O’Shea high on the knee a couple of yards out from the Irish goal.




70 mins – God, this does not look good at all for Seamus Coleman. Referee Nicola Rizzoli did not hesitate to show the straight red to Taylor, the tackle so bad that RTÉ won’t even show it again. You’d fear the worst for Coleman who is stretchered from the pitch with oxygen.


72 mins — Ireland sub: Christie is on for Coleman. More on the captain’s injury as we get it.


74 mins — CHANCE! McClean – close. His first shot hits a defender and when it comes back to him, his second effort is nicked wide off an outstretched leg.


78 mins – Ireland starting to ramp up the pressure. Whelan breaks and the ball is crossed to the back post but it’s just too high for Shane Long. Ack.


80 mins — Ireland sub: McGeady on for Meyler. Oh how we could do with some magic in the last 10 minutes.


82 mins – Ireland corner. McClean takes, good delivery, but Wales clear.


83 mins – Gareth Bale could be off here! He doesn’t see James McClean and swings around to play the ball, catching McClean with a boot to the midriff instead. Accidental, yes, but you’ve seen players booked for it before.


84 mins — OOOOOOOOH! Bale pounces on a loose pass and charges at the Irish defence. Keogh is backpedalling but Bale pings a shot that has Randolph at full stretch — and it is just wide. Like, practically kissing the post wide.


87 mins – Wales corner — and here come the big men…


88 mins – Ramsey puts it in, Bale heads wide, Ireland breathe.


88 mins – Ireland corner…


89 mins – Hennessy claims as James McClean is announced as the man of the match.


90 mins — CHANCE! Walters hooks the ball back into the box and Hennessy drops it. Fortunately for him, there’s a defender there to clear.


90+1 mins – Four minutes of stoppage time announced as McGeady pirouettes the ball out of play.


90+3 mins — Two minutes to play…


90+4 mins — PANIC! McGeady puts it up, Long heads towards goal, and Wales are all over the shop. They clear.


FULL TIME: Ireland 0-0 Wales


A point gained for Ireland or two points dropped? That feels like a conversation for another day.

Given the reduced numbers Martin O’Neill had to choose from, a point certainly would have been acceptable to many before kick off.

But with Wales down to 10 men for the last 15 minutes, there were certainly opportunities to win the game.

But for now, all thoughts will be with Seamus Coleman after that horror tackle. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

There’s a right barney going on in the RTÉ studio as Sadlier and Dunphy argue whether some of those borderline Irish tackles were indiscipline or aggression.

Better than the Late Late, anyway.

Martin O’Neill confirms that Seamus Coleman has suffered a “bad break.” Awful news, and here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

That’s all from the liveblog for this evening, but Ben Blake and Paul Fennessy will have plenty more reaction and analysis from the Aviva Stadium. Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly