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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 13 April 2021


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WE ASKED FOR new faces and that’s what we’ve got.

Ireland are in Antalya to face Turkey in their first game of the calendar year. Sadly, there’s no planning for Russia to be done after the embarrassing way the Boys in Green lost out to Denmark back in November, but now tis he time to put that behind us and look to the future.

Having brought eight uncapped players on the trip, manager Martin O’Neill will hand out two debuts from the start this evening, while others are likely to come on.

Kick off is 25 minutes away so stick with us.

Here’s the team. 19-year-old Declan Rice of West Ham and Aston Villa centre forward Scott Hogan will earn their first caps from the start, while Sean Maguire, Alan Browne and Colin Doyle are all making their second appearance for Ireland at this level.

O’Neill never likes to give anything away prior to kick-off, but it looks to be a 3-5-2 formation from the players selected. Very interesting indeed.

Ireland team Turkey

Call me old-fashioned, but Rice is in number 10 tonight and Seani’s wearing 8.


I personally couldn’t be happier to see this fella back in a green shirt, and tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary since his leg-break against Wales. Top man, Seamie!

Republic of Ireland Training & Press Conference Source: Stephen McCarthy

Extremely excited to see how these two fare up front together.

Scoot Hogan and Sean Maguire Scott Hogan and Sean Maguire. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Neill, speaking to Tony O’Donoghue, confirms he’ll be playing 3-5-2 to accommodate Maguire and Hogan. Tells the pair to take their chance and enjoy the occasion.

It’s all very mannerly between the interviewer and interviewee too.

Here’s the Turkey line-up for those interested. Notable names are AC Milan attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu and Everton striker Cenk Tosun.

Turkey: Babacan, Soyuncu, Kaldırım, Gonul, Aziz, Topal (c), Yokuşlu, Yazıcı, Calhanoglu, Akbaba, Tosun.

Similarly to Ireland, they’re going through a transitional period after a disappointing World Cup qualification campaign. Experienced Romanian manager Mircea Lucescu is in charge, and League of Ireland fans will remember him as the man in charge of Zenit St Petersburg when they faced Dundalk in the Europa League in 2016.

The players are lined up across the pitch and the anthems have begun. Not long now.

The New Antalya Stadium holds 35,000, but it’s not quite full this evening.


Kick-off – The home side get us underway in their red and white home colours. Ireland wearing their white change strip.


Duffy is playing centrally in defence with Rice on the left of the three and Long occupying the right. McClean and Coleman have started on the wings, while Browne is the deepest of the midfield trio with Hendrick and Hourihane ahead.

That leaves Maguire and Hogan up top.


The ball is fired into Maguire and he takes a heavy touch. “That has to stick in international football,” says RTE’s Ronnie Whelan.

His co-commentator George Hamilton has just referred to Declan Rice as ‘Damien’ too.


Turkey have begun playing the ball around a lot better than Ireland. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.


Turkey take a couple of shots from distance, but both sail over the bar. First it’s Hasan Ali Kaldırım, before Calhanoglu tries his luck.


Maguire is fouled and Ireland take the free-kick short to send Coleman down the line. He puts a ball over but Hogan is flagged offside. It has been a disjointed opening 15 minutes.


Turkey spread the ball well and captain Mehmet Topal eventually shoots from long range. Once again, it’s high and wide.


Great chance for Ireland! Hogan is played through and the striker beats the offside trap this time. After going past the goalkeeper, his touch is a heavy one and he finds the side-netting.


Down the other end, Rice puts in a good block to cut out a Turkish attack.


Cenk Tosun has a crack from 25 yards and Doyle gets down well to block, before it’s hacked away.


Ricky business. Gokhan Gonul whips in a cross and Duffy gets a slight touch but Doyle has come to collect and it’s very nearly an own goal.


Doyle has an easy catch from Yusuf’s attempted shot, but Turkey are getting on the ball more and more.


Moments after conceding a free-kick, McClean breaks on the counter and Coleman is fouled in the Turkish half. The set-piece comes in and McClean gets a glancing header but it’s into the hands Babacan.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time: Turkey 0-0 Ireland 

Turkey v Republic of Ireland - International Friendly Hogan had the best chance of the half. Source: Stephen McCarthy


Some half-time thoughts from Richie Sadlier on the RTE panel:

And that Hogan chance:

Flag 46Mins

Second half - The game has begun again. No changes on either side. Let’s hope for improvements from Ireland.


Turkey have a corner and it’s taken short. The ball falls to Caglar Soyuncu but he blazes a volley over the bar from a couple of yards out. Bad miss.


Encouraging from Maguire, who controls a ball and runs at the Turkish defence. He wins a corner, but it’s headed clear.

Flag 51Mins

GOAL! Turkey 1-0 Ireland (Mehmet Topal) 

The Turks are in front! Not for the first time, Calhanoglu and Yusuf are involved in a short corner, and the latter fires it into the box. McClean appears to lose his marker and skipper Topal finds the back of the net.


Ireland substitutes, ahoy! Maguire and Coleman are off with Shane Long and Matt Doherty introduced. It’s a debut for the Wolves wide man.


Change for Turkey – That’s the last of the action for Cenk Tosun, who makes way for Mahmut Tekdemir.


Calhanoglu drills a shot at goal and Doyle smothers after initially saving.


More subs – David Meyler and Ciaran Clark on for Hourihane and Browne. That switch sees Rice moved into midfield.

For Turkey, Emre Akbaba leaves the pitch for Yunus Malli.


More changes – Daryl Horgan is on for Hogan.


A rare opportunity for Ireland as McClean, who’s now playing up front, dribbles forward and puts the ball across the but hacked away.

Rice follows up with a volley, which goes wide.


That’s positive from Horgan. The Preston winger keeps the ball in and cross to the back post, but it’s slightly too high for Long.


Ireland’s sixth and final substitute - It’s Alan Judge on for Hendrick. That’s good news for a man who has spent the best part of two years injured.


Yellow card for Meyler for pushing Malli.

Aviv has also gone off for Kaan Ayhan.


Rice pushes forward and passes to Horgan. He looks to curl one at goal but it’s well off-target.

One of the few positives to come from tonight must be the assured debut of Rice.


Turkish sub - Alper Potuk on for Yusuf.

Time running out for a late Ireland goal.


Four minutes of time added on to play and Ireland have a corner. It comes to nothing and Turkey very nearly break on the counter.

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Ben Blake


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