Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As it happened: Ireland v New Zealand, international friendly

Ireland faced New Zealand in what may have been manager Stephen Kenny’s final game in charge.

Ireland 1-1 New Zealand

Hello, and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.

Barring a major surprise, this evening will be the last time Stephen Kenny coaches this Ireland team following a string of disappointing results during their latest European Championship qualification campaign.

With that in mind, the Dubliner will be eager to end his reign on a high in the form of a morale-boosting victory for his embattled team.

Ireland have only ever played New Zealand once before in what was the penultimate game in charge for Kenny’s predecessor, Mick McCarthy.

The Boys in Green earned a convincing 3-1 win that night and will be hoping to deliver a similarly positive performance this evening.

alan-browne-callum-robinson-and-james-mcclean Ireland’s Alan Browne, Callum Robinson and James McClean Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Confirmation of Ireland’s starting XI, with Mark Sykes making his full debut.

Who do you think will win tonight?

Poll Results:

Ireland (271)
Draw (263)
New Zealand (241)

stephen-kenny-and-shane-duffy Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and Shane Duffy. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

irish-fans-ahead-of-the-game-hold-a-sign-for-james-mcclean Irish fans ahead of the game hold a sign for James McClean. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

We’re underway…

It’s been a scrappy start.

Both teams have given the ball away cheaply and are yet to really threaten in the final third.

Johnston goes on an encouraging jinking run before his goalbound shot is ultimately blocked.

The Celtic winger has seen plenty of the ball in the early stages,

A well-woked Ireland move ends with McClean attempting a low cross but Boxall is in the right place to make a last-ditch block.

A couple of subsequent Ireland corners cause nervy moments in the New Zealand backline but they eventually clear.

Johnston makes another excellent driving run before Doherty can’t pick out an Irish player with his cross.

The hosts have started this game very much on the front foot.

Ireland continue to probe.

Jason Knight’s low cross finds the onrushing Doherty but the Wolves star can’t direct his first-time effort goalwards.

Johnston continues to look like the best player on the pitch.

He has just produced a lovely back flick in the build-up to another move down the left before crossing for Knight, whose deflected header falls comfortably into the arms of Crocombe.

Knight overhits an attempted pass for the onrushing Skykes.

It hasn’t quite clicked yet for Ireland down the right-hand side.

The most disappointing element for Stephen Kenny so far will be that they have yet to properly test the goalkeeper.

johnny-sexton-attends-the-game Recently retired Ireland Rugby player Johnny Sexton attends the game. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO


Ireland take the lead and it’s the Sligo Rovers man who is at fault.

New Zealand get caught playing across the back as Nando Pijnaker is dispossessed by Mark Sykes, who plays it to Adam Idah for a comfortable finish.

That’s deserved as Ireland have been comfortably the better team in these opening stages.

A low cross from Sykes is gathered by Crocombe as Ireland threaten a second.

This looks like it could be a rare comfortable evening for Stephen Kenny and his men, as New Zealand have offered very little so far.

Better from New Zealand.

Stamenic’s goalbound shot deflects wide via the body of Chris Wood.

New Zealand are coming more into it now.

Kelleher does well to tip away Sarpreet Singh’s curled effort from distance.

New Zealand go close again.

Singh fires it into the side-netting after a good driving run by Cacace.


adam-idah-celebrates-after-scoring-a-goal-with-mark-sykes Ireland's Adam Idah celebrates after scoring a goal with Mark Sykes Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

So half-time and a decent 45 minutes from an Ireland perspective.

The hosts got the goal their early dominance merited thanks largely to some intense pressing from full debutant Mark Sykes.

However, New Zealand came more into it as the half developed and missed a couple of half-chances shortly before the break.

However, with a subdued atmosphere and plenty of empty seats, it seems hard for either set of players to muster substantial enthusiasm amid such a low-stakes affair.

Ireland make one change at the break.

Kelleher is replaced by Travers in goal.

The second half is underway…

jamie-mcgrath Ireland's Jamie McGrath heads the ball. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

New Zealand go close again.

Singh delivers a low cross but Garbett can’t hit the target with his finish.

Jayson Molumby fires just wide from distance, after good work by Johnston in the build-up.

A second goal would surely be enough to wrap up the victory.

Ireland make another change.

Jason Knight is replaced by Josh Cullen, perhaps with an eye on protecting the lead and establishing a bit more control in midfield.

McClean’s corner finds Duffy, but the defender’s header is easily saved by Crocombe.

Moments later, Johnston and Doherty both find themselves in decent positions but can’t pick out an Irish jersey with their respective crosses into the box.


Duffy wins a tackle on the edge of the area, but it breaks to Garbett, who curls home a spectacular effort from distance.

The concession of long-range goals has been a recurring theme during the Stephen Kenny era, so that moment feels rather apt if tonight does prove to be his final match in charge.

Travers has to make a decent save to tip away Singh’s effort from the edge of the area.

Could New Zealand now go on to snatch an unlikely win?

Ireland make a double change.

Idah and McClean go off, with Manning and Ferguson coming on.

McClean is warmly applauded by the home crowd as he departs the field for the final time at international level.

Doherty receives the ball in the area but can’t steer his effort on target.

Moments before, the crowd got very frustrated — Ryan Manning was lining up a shot on the edge of the area only for the referee to get in his way.

It briefly looks as if New Zealand have taken the lead after Travers saves a pot shot only for it to ricochet in off Shane Duffy.

However, it seems a New Zealand player was flagged for offside in the build-up.

Meanwhile, Ireland are forced into another change, with Matt Doherty going off injured and Alan Browne introduced in his place.

The official attendance has been announced as 26.515.

A New Zealand friendly in November was always going to be a tough sell.

Another change for the visitors.

Elijah Just replaces Callum McCowatt.

new-zealand-players-celebrate-with-goal-scorer-matt-garbett New Zealand players celebrate with goal scorer Matt Garbett. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Another change for Ireland as debutant Andy Moran replaces Mikey Johnston.

Johnston started brightly but faded in the second half, which you can probably put down to his recent lack of game time/match sharpness with Celtic.

Another New Zealand change.

The goalscorer Matt Garbett is replaced by Clayton Lewis.

jayson-molumby-reacts Ireland's Jayson Molumby. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Decent chance for Ireland.

Ferguson’s shot on the edge of the area is parried away before Skykes can’t properly connect with the follow-up.

Shane Duffy’s header from Manning’s ensuing corner drifts a few inches wide.

Ferguson goes down in the area under a challenge from Boxall, but the referee ignores Irish protests.

He certainly didn’t get the ball when making the challenge looking at the replay.

There will be three minutes of stoppage time…

Mikey Johnston has been named as the player of the match.

There haven’t been too many strong candidates.


So that’s that.

A disappointing end to what has been a forgettable year for the Irish team.

There were several themes tonight that have become familiar to the Kenny era — the failure to build on an encouraging start, the inability to beat inferior opposition, the concession of a long-range goal, a lack of cutting edge in the final third and the strange, subdued, Covid-era-esque atmosphere at the Aviva.

stephen-kenny-hugs-james-mcclean-as-he-comes-off-the-pitch-for-the-final-time Ireland's manager Stephen Kenny and James McClean. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have plenty more reaction on the site shortly.

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