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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019


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IT’S THE LAST chance for Martin O’Neill to run the rule over his players before his first competitive game in charge of Ireland. 

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Ireland 2-0 Oman

Good evening and welcome along. We’re in Dublin 4 tonight for the meeting Ireland and Oman.

The opponents may not be the most glamorous and there will no doubt be plenty of empty seats at Lansdowne Road but manager Martin O’Neill will care little as he prepares for his first competitive match as Ireland boss against Georgia in Tbilisi in four days’ time.

The Derry man has overseen one win, three draws and three defeats since taking over less than a year ago but that record will be quickly forgotten about if he can lead Ireland to France for the Euro 2016 finals.

The starting line-ups are out and the big news is that Shay Given makes his comeback between the sticks two years after announcing his retirement from international football. Darron Gibson returns after a lengthy lay-off while Richard Keogh captains the side.

Ireland: Shay Given, David Meyler, Richard Keogh (c), Alex Pearce, Stephen Ward, Anthony Pilkington, Darron Gibson, Stephen Quinn, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan, Kevin Doyle.


Oman:  Al Habsi, S Al Mukhani, A Al Mukhani, Al Gheilani, Al Owaisi, Al Musalani, Al Muhaijri, Al Farsi, Saleh, Al Siyani, Hardan.

When these sides met back in September 2012, a 20-year-old Robbie Brady impressed as Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland ran out 4-1 winners at Craven Cottage.

Here are the highlights:

Source: GreenArmyNewsWC2014/YouTube

We’re 10 minutes away from kick-off and, as expected, an extremely low crowd have turned up. It doesn’t look more than a couple of thousand at the moment.

For those who wish to watch the game from the comfort of their home, it’s live on Setanta Ireland.

Ireland kick off and immediately get the ball moving nicely around the midfield. Robbie Brady’s cross wins a corner, which is taken short to him and a neat move is cleared behind a second time.

Oman clear and the ball makes its way all the way through to Shay Given, whose first touch is greeted with a cheer.

Ireland have lined up with Ward, Pearce, O’Shea and Meyler as a back four. Gibson partners Quinn in midield, while Brady has taken up a position on the left flank and Pilkington has begun on the opposite wing. Hoolahan supports Doyle in attack.

Oman, meanwhile, have started with a five-man defence, four in midfield and Qaseem Harden up front on his own.

Gibson is picked out by Hoolahan, who cuts inside but sees his shot blocked. Minutes later, Ireland lose possession and Mohammed Al Siyabi’s effort from distance flies a couple of yards wide.

Oman win themselves a first corner after Brady’s attempted pass back to Given goes out over the end-line. Doyle volleys away at the front post.

The visitors are enjoying a period of possession in the Irish half but give it away after a couple of minutes.

Pilkington then sells his marker with a clever stepover from Meyler’s pass and cuts the ball back to Brady, who has a pop which comes off a defender. The first bit of quality we’ve seen.

GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Oman (Kevin Doyle 20′)

There’s the opener. Robbie Brady whips in a corner and Kevin Doyle makes good connection to head home.

Kevin Doyle scores the opening goal Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Quinn finds Ward in an advanced position out wide and the Burnley defender crosses excellently for Doyle. He rises highest to head at goal but can’t get sufficient power on it.

Doyle finds himself in a promising position and lays off to Hoolahan whose chipped pass is cut out. Oman then break and Raed is allowed space. Thankfully for Given, however, the strike is a weak one and he gets down to collect.

Seconds later, Gibson pings a pass to Hoolahan and the Norwich schemer threads the ball through to Pilkington. He attempts a chip from an acute angle but Al Habsi makes a vital block.

From the corner, Pearce heads at goal where Al Gheilani has to get back to make a goal-line clearance. Better from Ireland.

Al Habsi comes out off his line to punch a cross from Pilkington,  which falls to the feet of Meyler. He pushes the ball onto his right foot and attempts to lob the Oman keeper but unluckily hits the post.

Ireland have earned a free-kick right on the edge of the box after Meyler got himself forward to make the most of Hoolahan’s pass. Meyler had been appealing for a penalty after going down under a challenge from Al Gheilani.

Brady to take but he blasts it off Meyler and the opportunity is wasted.

Second half has just begun and the one half-time change is Rob Elliot for Shay Given.

Half-time: Ireland 1-0 Oman 

Oman fans Oman fans at Lansdowne Road. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ireland have been a bit sloppy in the opening minutes of this second half and there is now a stoppage in play as Saleh is down after a tackle from Ward.

Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady and Shane Long are preparing for their introductions.

Hoolahan attempts to play in Pilkington but it’s just overhit. And here comes the triple substitution — it’s Keane, Long and McGeady for Doyle, Hoolahan and Pilkington.

Meanwhile, Oman boss Paul Le Guen has brought on Ali Al Jabri, Ali Al Busaidi and Yaqoob Al Qasmi for Hardan, Al Muhaijri and Al Gheilani.

For the second time tonight, Oman have cleared a goalward effort off the line. Ward’s cross is deflected to the back post where McGeady collects, checks inside and attempts to side-foot in. Al Musalami gets back to punt the ball away, however.

Gibson is clearly tiring, having not played competitively for Everton all season, and he has just picked up a yellow card for a bad challenge on Eid Al Farsi.

That’s his last action as he has been replaced by Glenn Whelan.

A strong run from Brady wins Ireland a corner and the same player’s set-piece is disappointing headed wide by Pearce.

Brady, Quinn and Whelan are standing over a free-kick 25 yards out after Long is fouled. Brady gets the ball up and over the ball but it sails over the bar.

Comedy moment of the night: Al Habsi goes to collect the ball and pics up a camera behind the goal before pretending to take a photo of Irish fans. The Wigan stopper receives a cheer for his antics.

Al Siyabi is off for Sami Al Hasani. Meanwhile, AL Farsi appears to be in some pain and is coming off. He has been one of the star performers for Oman tonight.

GOAL! Ireland 2-0 Oman (Alex Pearce 81′)

Ireland double their advantage and it’s from another corner. Brady with a low ball in which is flicked on by Keogh to Pearce, who takes a couple of touches and slots home.

David Meyler, who has done quite well at right-back tonight, has just been withdrawn for Daryl Murphy.

Robbie Keane is clearly looking to add to his international tally. First, his strike fizzes just wide before Al Habsi saves a second effort.

Another Oman change — Saleh off, Al Mashari on.

Ireland are not content with two here and McGeady has just struck the top of the crossbar with a strike similar to one he scored for Everton earlier this season.

We’ve reached 90 minutes here. Three more of added time to play.

Full-time: Ireland 2-0 Oman 

So Ireland go into the the Euro 2016 qualifiers on the back of a victory — the second of Martin O’Neill’s tenure. We’ll have a match report and reaction to follow.

Official attendance on the night: 14,376.

About the author:

Ben Blake