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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 2 September, 2015


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Giovanni Trapattoni’s men ran out comfortable winners against their neighbours from the north.

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Were you impressed?

Welcome to Aviva Stadium/Lansdowne Rd/Dublin Arena/whatevs for the Carling Nations Cup clash between the Republic of Ireland and the North.

quite honestly, there’s not much a crowd present but those that have made the short journey across the border are making plenty of noise.

Here’s your teams. Full disclosure: I’ve already stuck a fiver on Simon Cox to score first:

Republic of Ireland: Given, McShane, Ward, Delaney, Kelly, Coleman, Andrews, Foley, Treacy, Keane, Cox.

Northern Ireland: Blayney, Thompson, Cathcart, McAuley, Hodson, Carson, Clingan, Davis, Gorman, Feeney, McQuoid.

The Northern Ireland fans boo president Mary McAleese as she’s introduced to the teams on the red carpet.

Like Darron Gibson, she did choose the south over the north, I suppose.

One sample banner in the Northern Ireland end: “FAI, leave our players alone. But keep Gibson.”

Well Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Ireland last week might have done a whole world of good for British-Irish relations but there’s a section within Lansdowne Rd who seem oblivious.

God Save the Queen was whistled and booed by a section of the crowd.

We’re up-and-running and it’s the North (forgive me if I refer to the away team as ‘the North from now?) who enjoy the early pressure.

Sammy Clingan delivers a lovely free kick into the box which is cleared by Stephen Ward as far as Jonny Gorman who wellies it just over. Game on.

Paul McShane clip-clopped forward there – his mane billowing in the south Dublin night – before he gave the ball away with a careless pass. He was lucky Keith Andrews recovered to cut out the danger as the North broke quickly.

Ireland’s first real attempt on goal comes when Seamus Coleman floats in a nice ball for Paul McShane to attack at the back post. Nothing doing though.

Andrews hits the post! Simon Cox- who’s looked lively – pulled it back for Andrews on the edge of the box.

The Blackburn man clipped it off the upright. Unlucky.

Cox and Keane – which has a nice ring to it, if nothing else – combine well for the first time tonight.

Robbie dummies it, the West Brom man nicks it through for his new skipper and Keane then really should have shot quickly. Instead he attempts to loft it over Blayney who ultimately saved under pressure from Cox.

It’s a goal on his debut for the Wolves man.

Cox and Treacy worked a nice short corner and eventually the ball fell for the former Bohs striker to score past another ex-Gypsie, Alan Blayney.

The home crowd chat: you’re not singing any more to the visiting supporters within seconds.

GOAL! Republic of Ireland 2 Northern Ireland 0 Robbie Keane 35′

Lee Hodgson, the full back, left a pass back well short for his ‘keeper and Robbie Keane – lurking with intent – knocked it past him.

And as I type Seamus Coleman saw a shot saved from close range. The home side are looking much brighter now with six minutes left in the first period.

GOAL! Republic of Ireland 3 Northern Ireland 0 Cathcart og

I think the technical term for the North is woegious.

Keane and Cox combined very nicely again before Coleman fizzed the ball across the six-yard box where Craig Cathcart turned it into his own net.

HALF-TIME Republic 3 The North 0

I’ve just witnessed the worst penalty ever taken during the half-time entertainment.

Second half gets underway. Just a thought – thanks to Miguel Delaney – if Robbie Keane gets a hat-trick tonight, he’ll level Bobby Charlton’s goal-scoring record.

Penalty and a red card for Adam Thomspon!

Robbie steps up himself after he’s knocked over…

…and scores into the right-hand corner, via a John Aldridge shimmy.

Republic 4 The North 0, 55 minutes gone.

Liam Lawrence comes on for Coleman.

Keano almost knocked in his 49th international goals as he swung a foot at a cross, forcing a smart save from Alan Blayney. He smells the half century.

Look away now, West Ham fans.

Andy Keogh replaces Robbie Keane. He looks gutted to be dragged off as he chases a hat-trick and makes his feelings clear to Trap, it seems, as he makes his way to the bench next to Seamus Coleman.

There’s a little bit of a fuss in the away end as stewards speak to travelling supporters.

My friend and yours, Stephen Hunt, replaces Kevin Foley. This is exactly what we needed.

John O’Shea is playing in Gary Neville’s testimonial at Old Trafford tonight by the way.

Another former League of Ireland star is introduced – David Forde comes on for a bored-looking Given.

There’s 15 minutes left at the Aviva. Ireland, in fairness, haven’t stopped probing the North’s shaky defence in search of a fifth goal.

Keith Treacy has been influential in the centre of the pitch while Hunt and Keogh have been lively since their introduction.

Worthington has made a handful of changes but the visitors have offered very little here.

Apropos that penalty by  the way; regular liveblog visitor Gavin writes from his seat in the stadium: “looked soft red card over here…was a peno but only a yellow…..Keane shudda given it to someone else too”.

GOAL! Republic 5 The North 0

Simon Cox – another man making his debut – clips in his first goal for Ireland.

The away defence left him too much room and he finished well. I had him at around 7-1 to score first. He probably scored last.

Oooooh… Stephen Hunt hits the post with a curling free-kick. Six would be rude.

FINAL SCORE Republic of Ireland 5 Northern Ireland 0

Well that was good value. The few – us lucky few-  that did file into the Aviva Stadium this evening were treated to a bright Irish performance full of goals and incident.

Those who crossed the border were rewarded with schoolboy errors and wafer-thin defending.

If you were here tonight, your ticket will get you in again tomorrow night for Wales v Scotland. If it’s half as worthwhile an exercise as tonight, it might be worth leaving the sofa again.

Thanks for keeping us company – particularly those who tweeted and Facebooked (is that a verb?)

We’ll be back tomorrow bright and early. Let’s be careful out there.

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