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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 18 May 2021


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IT WAS A HUGE night for the Boys in Green as Group D leaders Poland were in town. 

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

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AFTER ALL THE waiting, match day has finally arrived. It is four months since Ireland’s last fixture and the meeting with Poland could prove to be a pivotal night in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign when all is said and done.

Ireland, lying fourth in Group D on seven points after two wins, one draw and a defeat, take on Poland — who are three points better off with the same amount of games played.

Fellow rivals Germany and Scotland both earned victories this evening to go level with the Poles, meaning a win should be the objective this evening.

Martin O’Neill kept us all guessing this week but in the last half hour has announced his starting XI.

IRELAND: Shay Given, Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson, John O’Shea, Robbie Brady, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters, Wes Hoolahan, Aiden McGeady, Robbie Keane.


POLAND: Lukasz Fabianski, Pawel Olkowski, Lukasz Szukala, Kamil Gilk, Jakub Wawrzyniak, Tomasz Jodlowiec, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Slawomir Peszko, Maciej Rybus, Arkadiusz Milik, Robert Lewandowski.

To say there are a couple of big calls in there is an understatement. Shay Given is back between the sticks for his first competitive game since Euro 2012 after getting the nod ahead of David Forde.

It looks like a 4-5-1 formation with Robbie Brady named at left full-back to make up a defence alongside John O’Shea, Marc Wilson and Seamus Coleman. James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan are likely to sit in midfield with Aiden McGeady and Jon Walters on the wings and Wes Hoolahan in behind Robbie Keane.

The Polish fans are here in there numbers and have already been making themselves heard. This promises to be one of the best atmospheres in recent times but Irish supporters will need to be loud if they are to out-sing the opposition.

A Poland supporter before the game A Polish fan outside the stadium. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The teams have just walked out ahead of the anthems.

Several flares were lit during the Polish national anthems meaning the stadium has been filled with smoke.

A moment’s applause for the recent deceased, including Irish Times sports journalist Carl O’Malley and Today FM presenter Tony Fenton, and we’re about to kick off.


Ireland begin positively with Seamus Coleman driving on down the right wing but the Everton full-back is stopped and Poland gain possession. The Poles are already in full voice.


As expected, Ireland have begun with 4-5-1. Keane is the lone front man with Walters and McGeady occupying the wings and getting forward as often as possible, while Hoolahan is the most advanced of the three-man midfield.


Walters is bundled over 40 yards out from goal and Ireland choose to take it quickly. Hoolahan finds himself in some space and dribbles forward before shooting just wide of Fabianski’s post

Poland looking to build from midfield but they’re being closed down quickly by the Irish players once they cross over the halfway line.


Brady tries to be clever and step inside but loses out to Peszko and Poland break before Hoolahan makes a late challenge. He gets a talking to from referee Jonas Eriksson.


Brady then shows his attacking threat by winning a corner. It’s the Hull City man to take but he doesn’t beat the first man.


Lewandowski backs into O’Shea and the Ireland defender grabs a hold of the Bayern Munich striker to concede a free-kick. Rybus finds Krychowiak but his header sails wide.


Hoolahan shows some close control but then under-hits the pass in an attempt to find Keane. Wes then went to win the ball back but brought down Szukala and he has been booked.

Flag 25Mins

GOAL! Ireland 0-1 Poland (Slawomir Peszko) 

The visitors are ahead. Brady loses possession and Wilson is out-muscled, which allows Peszko room to shoot past Given from a narrow angle.


Ireland have been under more pressure since the goal and, after Wilson gives away possession, O’Shea concedes a foul 35 yards out from Given’s goal.

Rybus has a pop but it’s off target.


Great work from Coleman to chase down a loose ball and win Ireland a free-kick after Wawrzyniak makes the late challenge. Brady to deliver, but it’s a poor one and goes out of play.


Blatant kick out at Coleman from Peszko and he should have been in the book for that.


That’s a super ball from Hoolahan to find the run of Coleman in behind the Polish defence. He takes it in his stride with the first touch but then overruns it.


Ireland break in number and McGeady plays Hoolahan. He opts to cross but it’s deflected into the hands of Fabianski.


Ireland’s best passage of play so far. Brady’s cross is recycled by McGeady, who sends one to the far post. Walters does excellently to control and keep the attack going and when the ball eventually falls to McGeady again, his cross-cum-shot goes just wide.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time: Ireland 0-1 Poland 

Coleman picks up a yellow card for pulling back Peszko but the free-kick is defended and that’s the end of the half.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group D - Republic of Ireland v Poland - Aviva Stadium Source: Niall Carson

Flag 46Mins

The second half has just begun and it looks like Ireland have changed to 4-4-2 with Hoolahan on the left, McGeady on the right and Walters joining Keane up front.


Brady whips in a ball from deep but it’s just over the head of Walters and goes out for a Poland throw.


Glik comes through the back of Keane and the Ireland captain falls to the floor. It’s a yellow card for the Poland defender and a free-kick to Ireland.


Brady, usually excellent at set-pieces, has put in a number of below-par deliveries tonight. His latest free-kick is headed clear.


CHANCE! Brady again with the cross, which is headed onto the post by a Polish defender with Fabianski beaten.


Another yellow card for a Poland defender as Szukala is booked after Walters bustles his way past the centre-half before being brought down.


Brady lines up the shot but he doesn’t trouble Fabianski.


The past couple of minutes have been more positive from Ireland with Hoolahan and Brady at the heart of it. They win another corner and Whelan makes good contact but it’s into the hands of Fabianski.


Much better from Ireland. They work a couple of openings and Hoolahan eventually shoots a few yards wide.

That’s the last of Aiden McGeady’s involvement as he has been taken off for James McClean as O’Neill makes his first switch.


Coleman shows his attacking threat and finds Walters with a cross. His header is weak though and the Polish keeper collects.


Yellow card for Wilson. He sends Lewandowski to the ground with a heavy challenge.


So close from Ireland! McClean makes an instant impact by going by his man and cross to the back post, where Keane heads on target. Fabianski bats it away and the ball is hacked out for a corner.


McClean puts a crunching, but fair, tackle in on Milik and the Ajax forward is receiving treatment. The challenge gives the Irish fans a lift and they’re on their feet singing.


Another half-chance with Brady the creator but the ball is a little behind Keane and he can’t direct it anywhere near goal. 10 minutes to play.


Ireland pour forward in numbers and McClean’s cross makes its way to Keane. He opts to leave it for the onrushing Coleman but he drives the ball wide. Needs to hit the target there.

Shane Long is on for Glenn Whelan as Ireland go in search of a goal.


Sebastian Mila has just been brought on and seconds into his introduction goes to ground after a shove by McCarthy. Both players earn a booking.

The goalscorer Peszko is off for Michal Kucharczyk, meanwhile.


Ireland have struck late against Georgia and Germany in this campaign already. If they are to rescue a point from this game, it will have to be something similar.


Five minutes of additional time to play.

Flag 91Mins

GOAL! Ireland 1-1 Poland (Shane Long)

They’ve done it again! A corner to the back post is headed into the path of Long by Hoolahan and the substitute strokes home from close range. Incredible.


Superb from James McClean to run half the pitch and win a corner. One more chance…

That’s that then. A win was the result Ireland were looking for but they will have to settle for a point after another great escape. They were second best in the first half but improved after the break and then had the better chances so deserved the goal.

As it stands, Poland remain top with 11 points, Germany and Scotland have ten each and Ireland stay fourth with eight. It’s a long shot but qualification is still achievable.

It’s Scotland in Dublin next in June… a couple of days after the friendly with England.

Thanks for the company. Until next time!

About the author:

Ben Blake