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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 7 August, 2020


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Hello! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of tonight’s Uefa Nations League clash between Denmark and Ireland live from Ceres Park in the east coast city of Aarhus.

It’s been a long and gruelling debut Nations League campaign for Ireland and with relegation to the third tier already confirmed, there is very little at stake here tonight amid the cold and wind.

Sadly, there is a growing apathy towards the Irish football team at the moment, with a poor run of results, a non-existent style of play, and frustration with the powers that be all combining to create a deflating malaise.

It can be unfair and unwise to compare the fortunes of different sports, but the contrast between the success of Ireland’s rugby team overcoming the All Blacks over the weekend  and their football counterparts — without a win in nine games — is clear for all to see.

Martin O'Neill Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The atmosphere inside the Aviva Stadium for last week’s 0-0 stalemate against Northern Ireland and that of Joe Schmidt’s side’s win against New Zealand could not be more pronounced.

Tonight Martin O’Neill’s men will try and end this Nations League campaign on a positive note following a year of difficult results and lack of goals.

But with relegation already confirmed and that aforementioned frustration surrounding so many facets of his side ongoing, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of optimism ahead of this final duel against a Denmark side who have inflicted so much pain on Ireland in recent times.

It’s going to be a long night ahead, with kick-off coming up at 7.45pm.

Earlier today it was confirmed that an Irish supporter named David Clerkin had died in Copenhagen, having travelled to Denmark to watch tonight’s game.

Police in the Danish capital said they received reports of ‘a lifeless man in the water’ just before 10.30am yesterday morning at the harbour in the Havnegade area of the city.

Divers from the Copenhagen Fire Department attended the scene and he was removed from the water. Mr Clerkin was then taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. A police spokesperson told that there is no suspicion of foul play. 

An Ireland season ticket holder and a passionate Drogheda United supporter, Mr Clerkin’s tragic passing has thrust the Irish football community into mourning today.

Black armbands will be worn by Martin O’Neill’s players during tonight’s game and a minute’s silence will also be held as a mark of respect for the 30-year-old.

“Drogheda United would like to express its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of David Clerkin who passed away yesterday in Copenhagen. A dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis,” the League of Ireland club wrote on Twitter.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said: “It is terribly sad news to hear of the tragic death of an Irish football supporter in Copenhagen this weekend. My thoughts are with the man’s family at this dreadful time.

“Ireland’s football fans have always represented the country so well on their travels and the last thing anyone ever wants to receive is terrible news of something awful like this. It puts sport into perspective.”

Let’s get started with the team news…

So, today’s teams will line out as:

IRELAND: Darren Randolph; Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long; Seamus Coleman (captain), Jeff Hendrick, Cyrus Christie, Robbie Brady, Enda Stevens; Callum O’Dowda; Aiden O’Brien.

Subs: Colin Doyle, Caoimhín Kelleher, Darragh Lenihan, Jimmy Dunne, David Meyler, Shaun Williams, Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane, Ronan Curtis, Callum Robinson, Scott Hogan, Michael Obafemi.

DENMARK: Frederik Rønnow; Peter Ankersen, Mathias Jørgensen, Andreas Bjelland, Jonas Knudsen; Lasse Schöne, Pierre Emile Højbjerg; Yussuf Poulsen, Christian Eriksen (captain), Martin Braithwaite; Nicolai Jørgensen.

Subs: David Jensen, Jesper Hansen, Jannik Vestergaard, Andreas Christensen, Christian Gytkjaer, Christian Nørgaard, Kasper Dolberg, Henrik Dalsgaard, Jens Stryger Larsen, Lukas Lerager, Andreas Cornelius, Pione Sisto.

It’s an interesting line-up from Martin O’Neill tonight.

There are five changes from the side which drew 0-0 against Northern Ireland four days ago, with Kevin Long, Richard Keogh, Enda Stevens, Cyrus Christie and Aiden O’Brien all entering the fray.

Just like last month’s stalemate at home to Denmark, Christie will slot into a midfield role in a 3-5-2 formation with Callum O’Dowda and Aiden O’Brien up top together.

There is not a whole lot of optimism from any angle you look at this game, but that said, when Ireland were on their knees a couple of months ago they did pull out a respectable performance away to Poland to earn a 1-1 draw. Denmark have already secured promotion and therefore have nothing riding on tonight’s game.

There is scope to pull out a shock win, but how do we see tonight’s game unfolding? Let us know below!

Poll Results:

Denmark win (427)
Draw (121)
Ireland win (95)

Some pre-game reading material ahead of kick-off:

The42′s man on the ground Paul Dollery is down in Aarhus for tonight’s game. “The Uefa Nations League was conceived as a means of replacing futile friendly fixtures with games of genuine consequence,” he wrote this week.  

“Yet when Ireland conclude their inaugural campaign against Denmark tomorrow evening in Aarhus nothing will be at stake for either team.”

This game is a weird one alright. There is absoutely nothing up for grabs, with promotion and relegation already secured, but you do get the sense that a heavy defeat for Martin O’Neill’s men tonight could have a big impact in the near future.

Martin O'Neill speaks with Roy Keane and Steve Guppy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

There is much discontent amongst supporters with O’Neill’s recent tenure, and with crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers to come next year, ending this most disheartening campaign on a high will be important feeding into the next qualification cycle.

That 5-1 loss against Denmark in a World Cup play-off left a bad taste in the mouth which continued into 2018, and O’Neill will be adamant not to allow the exact same outcome to happen again here tonight.

Half an hour to go before kick-off!


Immediately Denmark are on the front foot as Andreas Bjelland lofts an inviting long ball over the top in search of RB Leipzig man Yussuf Poulsen. The forward did well to peel away from his marker, but was eventually flagged for offside by the linesman. 

The Ireland team ahead of the game A minute's silence is held for Ireland supporter David Clerkin. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


At the other end Enda Stevens responds brilliantly with an individual attack full of stamina and running. He ghosts past one marker and then another down the left flank with great dribbling feet, but centre back Mathias Joergensen recovers in time to intercept. A really promising run from Stevens.


Plenty of action inside the opening few minutes here, a really end-to-end affair. Right-back Peter Ankersen bombs forward and battles up against Enda Stevens inside the box. The Danish full-back goes down in the box claiming a penalty, but Azerbaijan referee Aliyar Ağayev waves play on.

Callum O’Dowda with Mathias Jorgensen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


As George Hamilton would say, danger here! Ireland let off the hook after Cyrus Christie desperately gave the ball away right in front of his own box. It was really poor from the Fulham defender and that passage of play will only further fuel the argument that he should not be played in midfield. Denmark did well to apply the pressure, with Christian Eriksen having an initial go on goal before Yussuf Poulsen curled a second effort just over the bar. 


A bit more calm now following that frantic opening five minute spell. Denmark currently enjoying the lion’s share of possession (65 per cent to be exact) while Ireland are happy sit back and soak up pressure on the back foot. 

Robbie Brady with Yussuf Poulsen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Close! Some good pressure from Ireland in the final third sees Aiden O’Brien, Callum O’Dowda and Seamus Coleman link up inside the box. Defenders Andreas Bjelland and Jonas Knudsen were at sixes and sevens, but when the ball fell to Coleman with a shot at goal up for grabs, the captain could only toe-poke a weak effort right into the dive of goalkeeper Frederik Roennow.


Denmark respond with a go at goal of their own at the other end. A cross into the box falls invitingly into the path of Lasse Schoene on the edge of the area, but the Ajax midfielder can only blast his effort well and truly over the crossbar. It’s in Row Z now, even with the running track around the pitch.


Shane Duffy comes to Ireland’s rescue with a fine block. Nicolai Joergensen was picking out Darren Randolph’s bottom corner with a wicked effort, but Duffy did really well to get out just in the nick of time, spread himself and produce a brave interception to end the danger. Great defending.


Age Hareide’s men look really up for this and are a constant, menacing threat any time they go forward. Ireland are sitting back on the edge of their own ‘D’, but really are only acting as spectators as Christian Eriksen conducts his orchestra and spits passes all over the place accurately.

Enda Stevens with Yussuf Poulsen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


It’s wave after wave of attack from Denmark now. Whereas the opening five minutes had been an even enough, end-to-end affair, now the hosts have taken complete and utter control of proceedings. Lasse Schoene finds time and space 25 yards from goal and, without a man in sight blocking him down, has a pop at goal — his effort skidding just wide.


A free-kick for Denmark from a really decent position now as Shane Duffy lunges into Christian Eriksen rashly. The defender will argue that he got the ball, but the referee takes issue with the Derry man’s follow through on the tackle.

Age Hareide Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Schoene swings a curling ball into the danger zone from the free-kick, but Kevin Long leaps first and highest to head the danger clear. Eriksen delivers the resulting corner kick for Denmark, but it flies right through the box untouched by anyone. The pressure is unrelenting at the moment.


It’s been more than five and a half hours without an international goal for Ireland. It bloody feels like it too. Martin O’Neill’s side enjoying just 29 per cent possession at the moment.


Chance! Denmark almost break the lead with another dangerous attack which causes panic inside the Irish box. Mathias Joergensen rises high to meet a lofted ball into the box — but his header is right into the arms of Darren Randolph, who saves well.

Kevin Long and Enda Stevens with Yussuf Poulsen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Martin Braithwaite does well down the left wing. He cuts outside and has the beating of Seamus Coleman, but his cross flies off his left boot and into Randolph’s side netting harmlessly. It really is just attack, after attack, after attack from the Danes at the minute.


Ireland earn a free-kick at the other end, to relieve a bit of pressure. Robbie Brady takes command of it, and very nearly whips his shot into goalkeeper Roennow’s bottom corner. The Burnley midfielder curled his free up and over the wall, but it dragged just wide of the post.


You can clearly hear all of Roy Keane’s shouts and hollers from the dugout the way tonight’s pitch-side microphones have been positioned, and it’s very entertaining.


Save! Darren Randolph produces a decent save to deny a cross/shot from Peter Ankersen, who has been a serious threat going forward for the Danes tonight. Randolph’s initial save could only parry the ball into the path of Nicolai Joergensen, however, but Seamus Coleman did well to get into a smart position and block a certain goal with the bottom of his ankle. Ireland really hanging on here.


Another chance for Denmark. This time it’s a tantalising free-kick from the right boot of Christian Eriksen. The Tottenham man fancied his chances 30 yards out from goal, and almost dipped his shot right into Randloph’s top corner — his free flying narrowly over the crossbar.

Callum O’Dowda with Christian Eriksen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


All square at the break. Denmark have been much the better side, to say the least, enjoying 67 per cent possession and offering six shots on goal to Ireland’s two. It was an even opening to the game, but ever since Age Hareide’s side have bombarded Ireland with attack after attack. Martin O’Neill will be happy enough with the scoreline, but perhaps not so much with his side’s performance so far tonight. More action to come shortly!


Here we are then, the final 45 minutes of our first ever Uefa Nations League campaign. Thank God, if we’re all honest. There’s one switch for Denmark at the break with Christian Eriksen making way for Bordeaux midfielder Lukas Lerager.


Chance! Ooooh that really should have been 1-0 to the Danes. A scramble inside the box sees Seamus Coleman trying to fend off three men in red inside the box. The ball falls on a plate to Yussuf Poulsen, but the striker snatches at it and balloons a poor effort over the bar.

Robbie Brady with Yussuf Poulsen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Martin O’Neill didn’t say he wouldn’t bring Michael Obafemi on tonight when asked before kick-off. The Ireland manager said if the opportunity presented itself to bring the 18-year-old on, he would. Will we see the Dubliner make his senior Ireland debut tonight?

Michael Obafemi Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


A rare attack forward from Ireland down the right flank. Cyrus Christie takes advantage of a pocket of space, but his cross into the box fails to meet Aiden O’Brien — the two players getting their wires mixed up completely.


The visitors are hanging on, and hanging on and hanging on. Martin Braithwaite is gifted a chance to break the deadlock, but his curled effort aimed for Randolph’s bottom corner is once again blocked by a body clad in white who throws himself into the firing line. Richard Dunne versus Russia stuff, this.



Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg tees up a shot from distance. Not for the first time tonight the Irish midfield sits off too much and allows time and space to open up. The Southampton man offers a powerful pile-driver, but it flies over the crossbar. Again.

Cyrus Christie, Shane Duffy and Kevin Long leave the pitch at half time Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Seamus Coleman grabs Ireland by the scruff of the neck and attacks down the right. He fires a low cross into the danger zone, but it’s deflected back to his feet and then dribbled wide of the byline. This is grim viewing lads.


Double substitution for Ireland: Ronan Curtis replaces Aiden O’Brien & Callum Robinson replaces Robbie Brady.


The cutting edge and penetration which Denmark possessed in the first half has subsided significantly since the interval. They continue to attack and attack and have serious threats in the way of Nicolai Joergensen and Martin Braithwaite. But nothing seems to be breaking through for the hosts, and all of a sudden this game feels like a friendly.

Cyrus Christie with Jonas Knudsen Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Off the post! Joergensen almost gives Denmark the lead with a guilt-edged chance right in front of goal. The opportunity was made possible thanks to a horrendous error by Richard Keogh, who was easily dispossessed right in front of goal. Joergensen had a free strike at Darren Randolph, but could only find the woodwork. Ireland let off the hook there.


Coleman really does seem like the only man in a white jersey willing to run forward at this stage. He tries to find a breakaway down the right wing, but his ball across flies well wide before he punches the ground in frustration. “Hard luck Seamus!,” shouts Roy Keane, who we can still hear very clearly from the touchline.


Martin O’Neill in deep conversation with Michael Obafemi on the bench. The Southampton man seems likely to come on in the next few minutes for his senior Ireland debut. Something to get excited about, at least.

Martin O’Neill Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Intricate, patient passing play from Denmark right on the edge of the Irish box sees the ball fall on a plate for Jonas Knudsen to have a go at goal. The left back strikes well, but his effort flies well over the bar.


Substitution for Ireland: Michael Obafemi replaces Callum O’Dowda.


Three strikers up top for Ireland now for the final 10 minutes — Curtis, Obafemi and Robinson. A lot more fresh legs and speed in that front three than with O’Brien and O’Dowda it seems, with Ireland hoping to snatch a late, great winner to end this barren spell without a victory.

Obafemi becomes the first Ireland player to be capped this century. He was born on 6 July 2000. Jesus you’d feel old, wouldn’t you?


Denmark continue to throw everything forward with five minutes to go. A cross comes to Jonas Knudsen just inside the box, but the defender heads harmlessly wide. The way Age Hareide’s side are going for this you’d genuinely feel there was something at stake. Fair dues and all, but we won’t forgive the 5-1 anytime soon.

The home supporters thought their side had snatched it late on, with Christian Gytkjaer booting a close chance narrowly wide. The Danish supporters initially thought his effort had hit the back of the net, but even if it had the linesman flagged the Lech Poznań striker offside. 0-0 it remains with just stoppage time to go.

Seamus Coleman with Lukas Lerager and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


There will be two minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.

Well, there we have it. It’s a fourth game in a row without scoring a goal for Ireland, the first time since 1996 that has happened. For large periods it was a backs-against-the-wall performance, with Denmark enjoying 70 per cent possession and the lion’s share of clear-cut chances.

Positives for Ireland will be avoiding defeat in their final Uefa Nations League game and also the debut of promising 18-year-old Michael Obafemi. It has been a dreary 2018 for the national team and in many ways this performance offered a microcosm of this year as a whole for Martin O’Neill and his team — a lack of direction, no goals and no three points.

Thanks a million for following along with us tonight. You can read Paul Fennessey’s player ratings here and Paul Dollery’s on-the-whistle report from on the ground in Aarhus here. Cya!

Robbie Brady Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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Aaron Gallagher


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