Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 18 January 2022


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WE’RE AT LANSDOWNE Road for the visit of Poland.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the match. E-mail ben@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Ireland 2-0 Poland

Good evening folks. We’re 25 minutes away from kick-off and already the Aviva Stadium is turning red. If you didn’t know it, Poland are in town and are sure to have a strong following tonight. The fact that there’s a Polish stadium announcer alongside the regular PA says it all.

Both sets of players are currently on the pitch warming up so why not have a read of a preview of the game.

Without further ado, here’s how the two teams will line out.

Ireland: David Forde, Paul McShane, Ciaran Clark, John O’Shea, Greg Cunningham, Robbie Brady, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan, James McClean, Shane Long, Conor Sammon.

Poland: Artur Boruc, Damien Perquis, Kamil Glik, Sebastien Boenich, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Daniel Lukasik, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Ludovic Obraniak, Szymon Pawlowski, Robert Lewandowski.

The big news from the Irish side is that former UCD and Derry City striker Conor Sammon makes his senior debut alongside Shane Long up front. Millwall’s David Forde gets the nod ahead of Keiren Westwood in goal and John O’Shea, partnered by Ciaran Clark at centre-half captains the side.

There are a number of familiar faces in the Polish team. Artur Boruc, once with Celtic but now plying his trade at Southampton, is between the sticks. Jakub Blasxczykowksi, one of two Borussia Dortmun players with frontman Robert Lewandowski, skippers the visitors while Arsenal’s Wojciech Sczesny is on the bench.

Teams about to make their entrance onto the pitch now.

A Eursong-esque dance song is being belted out around the stadium. And it has proved a popular choice as the away fans are going wild.

The players exchange handshakes and we’re about to get underway. The visiting fans are greatly outnumbering Irish supporters and it could feel like a home game for the Polish players.

Ireland kick off but Paul McShane give possession away and Poland break down the left. It comes to nothing however and the ball runs through for David Forde to get his first touch of the night.

Poland attacking during these early stages and when Sebastien Boenisch gets free down the right, his cut-back is put behind by the foot of Forde. Two corners later, the ball is cleared into the opposing half and Ireland regroup.

Forde kicks long towards Sammon with Long making the run in behind but Kamil Glik wins the aerial battle. Ten minutes played and Ireland have yet to settle.

First meaningful attack from Ireland. Clark plays it up to Sammon, who flicks on for McClean. The Sunderland winger looks to cross but it’s cut out.

O’Shea catches Lewandowski on the left channel and concedes a free-kick. After it’s taken short, however, the cross is far too deep.

Chance for Poland and it’s gifted by Forde. O’Shea plays a pass back to his keeper but the clearance is a poor one which falls straight to Obraniak. The Bordeaux winger looks to curl a strike in but it’s deflected out for a corner.

Clark launches in a free-kick from the halfway line and Sammon competes before it finds its way to Brady. The Hull City player takes a touch and shoots wide with his left foot.

Ireland will count themselves lucky to have avoided going one down there. Blaszczykowski picks out his clubmate Lewandowski with a super first time ball and the striker beats the offside trap to go through on goal. He attempts to slot it by Forde but the Ireland stopper makes the block and the danger is averted for now.

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Poland (Ciaran Clark)

It may be against the run of play but Ireland are ahead. McClean earns Trap’s side their first corner of the game and the same player takes the set-piece. Clark leaps highest to win a header, Boruc blocks Long’s attempted flick and the ball falls to Clark, who slots it into the bottom corner.

Super save from Forde keeps out a Lewandowski volley then moments later the striker is livid when he doesn’t get a penalty after going down under a challenge from Clark. Ir did look late from the Villa defender and could easily have been given.

A first yellow card of the game from what looked a bad tackle by Glik. McClean knocks the ball by the Torino defender and is caught on the top of the foot.

Half-time: Ireland 1-0 Poland

Glik takes down Cunningham and is now walking a tightrope. Boruc collects the delivery and the referee calls a halt to the first half.

We’re about to return for the second half. No sign of Wes Hoolahan’s introduction but Paul Green is about to be introduced for Glenn Whelan.

For Poland, Wojciech Szczesny, who shoved a Polish fan competing in the half-time penalty shootout competition, replaces Boruc while Marcin Wasilewski and Kamil Grosicki are on for Boenisch and Pawlowski.

The new Polish keeper is immediately called into action to pull off a brilliant save from a McCarthy strike after McShane had headed McClean’s header back across.

Green collects a pass from McClean and  plays him through on goal but Szczesny is off his line like a light to make a slide tackle outside his box.

Ireland then work a good passage of play from one side of the pitch to the other before McClean’s cross goes out for a corner.

Free-kick for Poland after McShane comes through the back of Obraniak. Ireland deal with the free-kick.

Wes Hoolahan is out warming up below us so could well be introduced shortly.

Meanwhile, Obraniak has been withdrawn to be replaced by Arkadiusz Milik and James McCarthy has been shown a yellow card for one late challenge too many.

What a chance! McClean’s strike comes back out to Sammon but he needs two touches and overruns it to allow Szczesny to smother.

Hoolahan is now on the pitch too. The Norwich City schemer is on for Shane Long.

Poland waste a decent chance to get a shot away and there’s now smoke pouring around the Irish goalmouth after a flare is thrown onto the pitch. Blaszczykowski flings it behind the goal, where two fireman take care of the rest.

Credit: Inpho

Double substitution for Ireland – Brady and McCarthy make way for Jon Walters and Jeff Hendrick, who makes his senior debut.

GOAL! Ireland 2-0 Poland (Wes Hoolahan)

Great goal created and finished off by two of the new men. A cross is headed as far as Hendrick, who clips a super pass to Hoolahan. He controls with his chest then beats Szczesny brilliantly, although it does take a minor deflection.

His celebration? A Robbie Keane-esque tumble before he’s mobbed by his team-mates.

Ten minutes to play and Simon Cox has been handed a cameo in place of McClean. The Fields of Athenry’ is being sung for the first time tonight as the Polish fans have been silenced.

All three of the Derby County players are now on as Ciaran Clark comes off for Richard Keogh.

I enjoy this picture a lot. Wes Hoolahan scores his first senior goal for Ireland…

Credit: Inpho

Full-time: Ireland 2-0 Poland

And that’s that. They were second best to an organised Poland team in the first half but Ireland worked hard after the break and begin 2013 with a win and a clean sheet. There were positives to take, Ciaran Clark did particularly well alongside John O’Shea at centre-half, while Wes Hoolahan, Paul Green and Jeff Hendrick all caught the eye during their cameos off the bench.

My fingers aren’t far from falling off at this stage so I’m off for a cuppa before seeing what Mr Trapatttoni has to say about tonight’s display. Thanks as always for joining us and check back in for plenty of post-match reaction.

About the author:

Ben Blake