Dublin: 17°C Monday 15 August 2022
Advertisement

Troy Parrott brace rescues Ireland from humiliating defeat to Andorra

Stephen Kenny has his first victory as Ireland manager, thanks to a come-from-behind 4-1 victory.

Troy Parrott and Stephen Kenny celebrate the striker's second goal against Andorra.
Troy Parrott and Stephen Kenny celebrate the striker's second goal against Andorra.
Image: Sergio Ruiz/INPHO

Andorra 1

Republic of Ireland 4

ANOTHER MORTIFICATION NARROWLY dodged.

Stephen Kenny’s reign was heading for a place from which no Irish manager returns until Troy Parrott swooped to rescue, scoring twice shortly after Ireland fell behind to Andorra. 

These are black boxes of games: they are usually only heard from if something goes badly wrong – think Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Cyprus – but ultimately this will be largely forgotten, remembered largely for a few milestones: Stephen Kenny’s first win, Daryl Horgan and Jason Knight’s first goals, and Troy Parrott’s breakout game. 

Ireland briefly had to reckon with horror when they fell behind in the opening minutes of the second half, but Parrott’s near-instant salvo turned the game in Ireland’s favour, and they did not care to look back from there.

Andorra usually sit deep in a 5-4-1 formation but perhaps emboldened by the team Ireland have become, they played with adventure from the off. The sprang out in a 4-4-2 and pressed their opponents hard, and as we saw against Luxembourg, too often Ireland looked nervy and uncomfortable when they were squeezed in possession. 

Stephen Kenny reverted to a back four for the first time since last autumn but, miserably, the first half here was a photocopy of the opening 45 minutes against Luxembourg. Ireland lacked urgency in possession and created almost nothing bar one sitter missed by James Collins. On that occasion Collins at least forced the goalkeeper into a save; today he skimmed a header in the six-yard box way wide. 

That came from Ireland’s one decent spell of possession, in which they finally upped the tempo and started moving the ball around Andorra’s banks of four. Otherwise Ireland were hestitant and nervy and, at times, bewildered: Collins and Troy Parrott often dropped into the same space, while at one point Parrott ran an overlap on James McClean…right into the space McClean was planning to run into. 

Ireland don’t have a knockout punch – this has long been established – but nor did they have any kind of jab in this game. Stephen Kenny spoke about the need for Ireland’s midfield to pass the ball forward more quickly, but here they overcompensated. When they weren’t moving the ball slowly and idly in their own half, they were slinging it across the pitch and giving it away.

It was 45 minutes with one single redeeming quality: it was better than what was lying in wait after the break. 

The 52nd minute brought the moment that pushed the Kenny era close to the brink, as the Irish defence imploded. To say Ireland switched off would be too kind: they were never switched on. Marc Vales didn’t have to peel off John Egan to meet the free-kick – he wasn’t picked up in the first place – and he planted his header beyond Bazunu as the only other player in the box. The Irish defending was an utter shambles, and the many glares of embarrassed recrimination among the players were eerily reminiscent of the 5-2 defeat in Cyprus. 

iker-alvarez-celebrates-marc-vales-scoring-their-first-goal Iker celebrates Andorra's shock goal. Source: Sergio Ruiz/INPHO

Ireland were saved by a teenager’s refusal to be mortified. It was Troy Parrott who showed the leadership Ireland needed, by finally showing some conviction in attack. Picking up the ball in the inside-left position, Parrott accelerated diagonally into the penalty area and then slotted a terrific reverse finish beyond Iker. 

There’s a lot to be said for an attacking approach based on ‘f**k this.’ 

Parrott should have instantly created the goal to put Ireland in front, but his delightful nudge across the box to Curtis was casually – and somehow – steered wide. Perhaps again seeing the need to do things himself, Parrott completed the turnaround a minute later, rising to meet Hourihane’s terrific cross at the back post. Iker, who fumbled the ball over the line, ought to have done better. 

See Sport
Differently

Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership

Become a Member

Iker – the son of the Andorran manager – was subbed in the final quarter, with Ildefons Lima introduced to make history: having made his international debut in 1997, today he joined Jari Litmanen as the only man to play international football in four separate decades. 

Jason Knight met Daryl Horgan’s cross at the back post in the closing minutes to give the score a more respectable sheen, and then the pair swapped duties as Horgan headed Knight’s superb cross in as the game trundled to injury time, with Andorra’s energy wilting fast.

It was another deeply flawed Irish performance, albeit ultimately one mercifully filled with just worry rather than humiliation.  

Andorra: Iker (Francisco Pires, 76′); Moises San Nicolás (Christian Garcia, 71′), Marc Vales, Mac Llovera, Joan Cervós; Ludovic Clemente (Christian Martinez, 59′), Marc Rebés (Eric De Pablos, 71′), Marcio Vieira, Alex Martinez (Ildefons Lima, 76′); Jordi Aláez, Ricard Fernandez 

Republic of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu; Matt Doherty, Dara O’Shea (Ryan Manning, 85′), John Egan (captain), James McClean (Shane Duffy, 85′); Josh Cullen, Conor Hourihane (Harry Arter, 85′); Jason Knight, Troy Parrott (Jamie McGrath, 82′), Ronan Curtis (Daryl Horgan, 65) ; James Collins (Adam Idah, 65′)

Referee: Xavier Estrada (Spain)

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

Read next:

COMMENTS (46)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel