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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 15 April 2021


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Who ever said that international breaks are boring?

At the end of a turbulent week, on and off the pitch, a new-look Ireland side are in Wroclaw this evening for a friendly against Poland.

After last week’s 4-1 embarrassment in Cardiff, the pressure is very much on Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane. A positive performance, if not a positive result, would be very welcome on the back of the nine goals which have been conceded in Ireland’s last two competitive games.

Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

TEAM NEWS: Here’s how Ireland will line out, with an international debut for Aiden O’Brien (not that one) and first international starts for both Shaun Williams and Enda Stevens.


23. Darren Randolph

20. Richard Keogh
10. John Egan
21. Kevin Long

12. Enda Stevens
13. Jeff Hendrick
7. Shaun Williams
8. Callum O’Dowda
3. Cyrus Christie

14. Callum Robinson
11. Aiden O’Brien

TEAM NEWS: Here’s how Poland will line out.

1. Wojciech Szczesny

4. Tomasz Kedziora
15. Kamil Glik (capt)
19. Marcin Kaminski
3. Arkadiusz Reca

16. Jakub Blaszczykowski
10. Grzegorz Krychowiak
8. Karol Linetty
21. Rafal Kurzawa

7. Arkadiusz Milik
23. Krzysztof Piątek

If you’re wondering where Robert Lewandowski is tonight, on the bench is the answer.

In his absence, it falls to Krzysztof Piatek to lead the Polish line. He joined Genoa in the summer and has lit up Italian football with seven goals in his first four games.


KICK OFF: We’re up and running in Wroclaw. Sit tight.


Callum Robinson has the first half-sighter on goal from about 20 yards but it doesn’t beat the first man, and bounces off a Polish head and clear.


Egan and Robinson get their lines crossed a bit as the centre-half (wearing 10) bursts into midfield. Glik, the Polish skipper, bundles Robinson over and Ireland win the free.


Robinson presses Szczesny in his own box and forces the Polish keeper into a mistake as he scrambles the ball out towards the corner flag. Ireland can’t get it back into the box though.


Ireland try to play the ball out from the back and get themselves in a bit of a muddle. Instead, they play it out for a throw-in.


WHAT A CHANCE! Poland should be 1-0 up in the ninth minute. Reca launches a long throw towards Randolph’s goal and Kaminski flicks it on at the near post. Enda Stevens gets caught between two Polish players and trips himself up as he tries to get his positioning right, but Milik sends his free header just wide. He had to score there.


Ireland whip a corner towards the back post, and Szczesny doesn’t look all too comfortable underneath it, but Egan is crowded out at the far post and it bounces behind for a corner.


Christie gets pickpocketed as he laboriously tries to play the ball out from the back. Blaszczykowski and feeds it to Piatek, and Christie has Hendrick to thank for tracking back and sparing his blushes.


Richard Keogh has to be sharp to cover across before Reca does any damage bombing forward from left-full. The Polish defender gets in behind, into the space vacated by Christie, but Keogh gets over with a well-timed tackle.


Ireland are causing more trouble for themselves at the moment than Poland are. Again, they’re playing in the wrong areas of the pitch and when the move breaks down, Kurzawa plays in Piatek. Stevens gets across to intervene in the nick of time.


OOOH! From the corner, Poland almost take the lead. The ball bobbles around the box, Aiden O’Brien can’t quite get to it to clear, and it comes off the heel of Krychowiak and spins up and — thankfully — past the post.


So far, so uninspiring… although that applies equally to both sides, to be honest.


Jeff Hendrick drives from midfield into the Polish box but instead of doing something with possession, he overruns it and Szczesny scoops it up. Oh well.


Milik tests Randolph from 25 yards out. The keeper has his body behind it though and saves without too much trouble.


Blaszczykowski tries to set Piatek free down the wing but again, it’s good defending by Keogh who gets his body between man and ball to snuff out the danger.


Wild challenge from Aiden O’Brien on Linetty, and he’s fortunate that it doesn’t result in some sort of injury. Linetty has a little nibble back when play resumes.


Pinball football in front of Randolph’s goal with ball and bodies flying everywhere. Ireland survive.


HALF TIME: Poland 0-0 Ireland

Referee Boris Marhefka is a kind and merciful man. He blows for half time bang on 45 minutes and that’s it.

I’m off for a strong coffee. Back soon (probably).


SECOND HALF: We’re back. Great stuff.


It wasn’t champagne football by any means from either side in the first half but, from Ireland’s perspective, it was a considerable improvement on last Thursday night in Cardiff. 


That’s better from Ireland. They get numbers forward in support for an attack, and O’Dowda finds space on the right. He cuts back in to test Szczesny but the keeper saves comfortably. Still, that’s Ireland’s first shot on target, I think.


Ireland have created more meaningful chances in the first six minutes of this second half than they did in the first 45. Christie beats three, maybe four, Polish defenders but then it’s nicked away from him by Glik sliding in before he can get the shot off.

Flag 53Mins

GOAL FOR IRELAND! Poland 0-1 Ireland (O’Brien, 53′)

Ireland lead! Superb cross by Callum O’Dowda from the right, curling invitingly onto O’Brien’s head. Szczesny stays on his line and O’Brien nods it past him. A goal on his debut!

Aiden O'Brien scores his sides first goal Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO


Ireland sub: Matt Doherty is on for Cyrus Christie.


Ireland sub: David Meyler is on in place of Hendrick now too.


Now it’s Poland who are gone a bit Keystone Cops at the back. Glik heads the ball up into the air rather than away, and when it drops to O’Dowda, the space opens up in front of him and invites him to have a go. He does… and it’s not a million miles off.


Poland double sub: Glik is replaced by Bednarek; Klich, of Leeds United, is on for Piatek.


Linetty tries his luck from distance before Williams can get out to close him down. It’s harmlessly over Randolph’s bar though.


Ireland sub: Graham Burke is on for Callum Robinson.


Smashing tackle from Linetty! And Poland needed it, because Ireland might well have been in for a second otherwise. O’Dowda bursts upfield and has Matt Doherty — who busts a lung to get up there with him — on the overlap on his shoulder. But Linetty nicks the ball away just as O’Dowda goes to play the pass.


Half-chance for Poland. Reca whips in a cross which sees Milik try — and fail — to connect with a bicycle kick. The ball bounces through to Kadzior at the back post but his shot takes a deflection which takes the sting out of it. Randolph gets down to prevent the corner.


Ireland sub: Conor Hourihane is on for Shaun Williams for the final 18 minutes or so.


FREE HEADER! But Szymanski can’t hit the target for Poland. Enda Stevens — I think — bites and commits himself out of position which leaves Ireland exposed. Long can’t get out to stop the cross, but Szymanski’s flick drifts wide at the back post.


Ireland sub: Debutant and goalscorer Aiden O’Brien is the man to make way; Daryl Horgan gets a run for the last 10 minutes.


Ireland are dropping 10 men behind the ball now, which should make for a very pleasant last eight minutes.

Flag 87Mins

GOAL FOR POLAND! Poland 1-1 Ireland (Klich, 87′)

Poland equalise with three minutes left — and it’s the man from Leeds United, Klich. He plays a nice one-two with Milik, playing the ball around John Egan like he’s not there, and when he collects the return on the far side, it’s a simple finish past Randolph.


CHANCE! Oh, Poland should really have nicked it here, but Frankowski just can’t get his outstretched toe on the ball to poke it home. Any sort of touch there and you’d feel it was a goal…


Four additional minutes to be played here.


Darren Randolph is in no hurry to take this latest kick-out. No hurry at all.


We’re now into the sixth minute of additional time, which seems sadistic really…

So that’s it. A much-improved performance from Ireland but, let’s be honest, that’s a very low bar to set.

If nothing else, it will be a night to remember for Aiden O’Brien who capped his debut with a goal which looked like it might be Ireland’s winner, only for Mateusz Klich to intervene and spoil the party.

And with that, we bring an end to a quite remarkable international week.

We’ll have more reaction over the course of the evening but that’s it from us for now. Thanks for reading.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly


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