Monday, December 4, 2023

Ireland v New Zealand: International friendly

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Unfortunately, a goal for Italy at Turner’s Cross. Wilfried Gnonto from a penalty after Lawal handled the ball in the box. 1-1 there at half-time.

Stephen Kenny tunes out the background noise as 41,000 expected at Aviva, writes soccer correspondent Gavin Cummiskey in his preview of tonight’s game.

“Despite the background noise, Kenny lauded the sale of 41,000 tickets for Tuesday night’s game with New Zealand, ranked 103rd in the world, even though the tickets were bundled with the Greece game in October. On Friday the White Caps lost 2-0 in Athens.

“There’s not many countries in Europe getting crowds like that for the lesser nations,” he said. “It’s a credit to the team and a credit to the players.”

“The penultimate press conference began with a jab at unnamed critics, who apparently compared a 1-0 loss to the Dutch with dark nights for Irish football under Mick McCarthy, Steve Staunton and Martin O’Neill.

“It wasn’t like we lost 4-1 to Wales or got hammered in Cyprus or Macedonia the other night, it was a tight game in Holland that we lost 1-0 and deserved to lose. It was one of those games, I think a bit of perspective on that, you know?”

Ireland are playing in the under 21s tonight in Turner’s Cross, a key game for Euro 2025 qualification. Ireland have just gone ahead against Italy! Killian Phillips with the goal after some great play by Sinclair Armstrong. Italy’s first goal conceded in five games. Thirty-three minutes gone there. Ireland are third in the group after losing to Norway on Friday night, but a win would put them back on top of the group.

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the international friendly between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

More known as a rugby fixture, most famously last month when Ireland were knocked out by the All Blacks, the soccer equivalents have only played each other once, a 3-1 victory for Mick McCarthy’s Ireland in November 2019. Derrick Williams, Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson the scorers. Alan Browne, Josh Cullen and Troy Parrott are the only players who started that day who are still around the squad.

James McClean was an unused substitute in 2019 and he will make his final appearance for Ireland against New Zealand tonight. He has played for his national team 103 times over 12 years, a very credible record and a great servant for Irish football. It is also likely to be Stephen Kenny’s final game as manager, with his contract up as manager, his record of six defeats in Euro 2024 qualifying is unlikely to bring with it a new contract. Next Tuesday the FAI’s director of football, Marc Canham, will present a review on the current campaign to the board of directors. Canham is not expected to recommend a contract extension for Kenny.

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