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New faces fail to inspire Ireland in Turkey

Boys in Green boss Martin O’Neill gave game time to several players previously on the periphery of the squad.

The Ireland players looking dejected after conceding.
The Ireland players looking dejected after conceding.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated at 19.50

A NEW-LOOK Ireland side were beaten 1-0 by Turkey in an international friendly in Antalya this evening.

Boys in Green boss Martin O’Neill gave game time to several players previously on the periphery of the squad, but Ireland laboured in attack and were outplayed by the opposition for long spells of the game.

Aston Villa attacker Scott Hogan wasted the visitors best chance in the first half, as he rounded the goalkeeper but could subsequently only find the side-netting from a tight angle.

The winning goal came later on 52 minutes. After a short corner, Yusuf Yazıcı’s cross was volleyed home by an unmarked Mehmet Topal to give the hosts the advantage, capitalising on some slack Irish defending.

It was always going to be an experimental starting line-up with an abundance of high-profile players missing for the visitors, and Martin O’Neill handed international debuts to Declan Rice and Scott Hogan, while Preston pair Sean Maguire and Alan Browne were awarded their first starts in an Ireland jersey.

The team lined out with an unusual 3-5-2 formation, but there was a distinct feeling of familiarity about this Irish performance.

The match could have been mistaken for several of O’Neill’s men’s away World Cup qualifiers — the Irish team were happy to sit back and play hopeful long balls up to the new-look frontline, with the opposition controlling proceedings, meaning Maguire and Hogan were invariably forced to feed off scraps.

There were few positives amid a dull game, but 19-year-old Rice earned a deserved man-of-the-match award, following an assured display in which he was tried out in both defence and further forward in midfield in the second half.

After a scrappy and uneventful opening period almost entirely devoid of goalmouth action, Turkish captain Mehmet Topal’s hopeful shot from distance on 17 minutes went well over and summed up the lack of attacking threat from either side.

The game came to life shortly thereafter, however. Hogan latched on to Jeff Hendrick’s pinpoint through ball, with the attacker taking it round Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Babacan, but the Aston Villa striker’s heavy touch left him with too narrow an angle and he missed the target with his finish.

On his first start, Maguire, who has been in excellent form at club level of late, cut a frustrated figure. The ball wasn’t sticking to the Preston attacker up top as Ireland failed to play to his strengths and on one occasion where he lost possession, it led directly to a Cenk Tosun shot on 28 minutes, which forced Colin Doyle — representing Ireland for the first time since a 2007 Ecuador friendly — into a save.

Declan Rice dejected Ireland's Declan Rice was named man of the match on his international debut. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A few minutes later, a lack of communication between Doyle and Shane Duffy prompted the latter to almost head in an own goal as the goalkeeper tried to claim a cross, but much to the visitors’ relief, the unwitting attempt went narrowly wide.

The game drifted into a lull as the half wore on, with Turkey dominating possession and territory but offering little in the way of conviction.

A strong challenge from James McClean on 38 minutes for which he was penalised briefly enlivened proceedings, but it was an anomaly in an otherwise dreary first half.

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Maguire, meanwhile, was still working hard despite a lack of service, and had an inconclusive penalty claim waved away five minutes before the break.

Çağlar Söyüncü wasted Turkey’s best chance of the match up to then right after half-time, getting on the end of an out-swinging corner, but volleying well over from close range.

Ireland failed to pay heed to that warning though, and Topal fired home the opening goal six minutes later.

Turkey vs Ireland: Friendly match Turkey's players celebrate their winner. Source: Getty Images

Just after the hour mark, the Boys in Green made their first changes. The ineffectual Maguire was replaced by Shane Long, while captain Seamus Coleman’s departure meant an international debut for Wolves’ Matt Doherty. Turkey also made a switch, with Everton star Tosun making way for Mahmut Tekdemir.

However, there was little difference to the pattern of the match. Ireland continued to struggle in attack, while Turkey were looking the more likely side to score. A strong Hakan Çalhanoğlu shot from distance midway through the second half was only gathered by Colin Doyle at the second attempt.

A rare Ireland attack saw McClean burst down the left wing with 15 minutes remaining, and after his cross was half-cleared, an audacious Rice attempt from distance went well off target.

A raft of late changes from both sides further disrupted the game’s momentum, as a largely forgettable match petered out.

TURKEY: Volkan Babacan; Gokhan Gonul, Serdar Aziz (Kaan Ayhan 82), Caglar Soyuncu, Hasan Ali Kaldirim; Mehmet Topal (c), Okay Yokuslu; Yusuf Yazici (Alper Potuk 87), Emre Akbaba (Yunus Malli 69), Hakan Calhanoglu (Irfan Can Kahveci 80); Cenk Tosun (Enes Unal 64).

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Colin Doyle; Shane Duffy, Declan Rice, Kevin Long; Seamus Coleman (c) (Matt Doherty 63), Conor Hourihane (Ciaran Clark 68), Alan Browne (David Meyler 69), Jeff Hendrick (Alan Judge 80), James McClean; Scott Hogan (Daryl Horgan 75), Sean Maguire (Shane Long 62).

Referee: Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)

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Paul Fennessy

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