Ireland unable to recover from first-half Australia blitz

Ireland unable to recover from first-half Australia blitz

Republic of Ireland 0-3 Australia
12th Aug 2009

Republic of Ireland 0-3 Australia

The Republic of Ireland and Australia created history today when they played the first Senior Football International at Thomond Park, the headquarters of Munster's rugby squad.

There was a real sense of occasion at the stadium for a game which was of importance to both teams for different reasons.

Ireland's manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, was using the game as a final preparation for the upcoming critically important World Cup tie away to Cyprus.

Australia's manager, Pim Verbeek, was safe in the knowledge that his squad have already qualified for next year's World Cup final tournament in South Africa. He was looking for compelling performances from his players with a view to deciding the 23 players who will represent Australia in South Africa next Summer.

Ireland have played few senior internationals outside of Dublin for obvious reasons. The re-built Thomond Park with a capacity of 26,000 offers a viable alternative for the future.

Previously Ireland played at the Mardyke in Cork in 1939 when they drew with Hungary 2-2. Ireland also played in Cork in 1985 when they drew at Flower Lodge in a scoreless game with Spain, who had been beaten finalists in the European Championship in 1984.

The game opened with Australia in menacing mood and they threatened first in the 9th minute when Harry Kewell powered a shot from a free 30 yards from goal that forced goalkeeper Shay Given to save low.

Ireland were in aggressive mood in the 13th minute when a good move from Whelan to O'Shea found McGeady breaking on the left. He traded passes with Kilbane and crossed for Keane to head narrowly over.

Ireland were looking for the opening goal again in the 20th minute when McGeady, who was in sparkling form on Ireland's left wing, found Duff with a marvellous cross-field pass and his shot was charged down on the edge of the penalty area and deflected for a corner.

Ireland looked to goalkeeper Given to save a dangerous situation in the 21st minute when a corner from Bresciano on the right wing was met high in the air by Kisnorbo. His powerful header down was blocked by Given who had to move smartly to deny McDonald as the Celtic striker looked to get on the rebound.

The crowd were in expectant mood again in the 23rd minute when McGeady drilled an excellent pass through to Keane on the left of the penalty area. The 'Spurs striker looked to hit the ball quickly but then checked and dodged two defenders before getting in a shot which was smothered as goalkeeper Schwarzer dived bravely at his feet.

A competitive game saw both teams play open, attacking, football and the fans responded enthusiastically to the lively action.

Australia jumped in front in the 38th minute after a bout of play that was typical of the ever-changing contest.

Ireland attacked with genuine menace on the right flank through Doyle. His cross was angled for Keane but was cut out by centre-back North whose headed clearance was quickly transferred to Cahill in midfield.

He ran at the Irish defence before finding McDonald on the right of the penalty area. McDonald held the ball for an instant before turning the ball precisely into the path of Cahill who finished with aplomb - a left foot drive that flew low into the far corner.

Australia visibly grew in confidence and they were quickly back in search of a second and it duly arrived to reward their adventurous football.

Full-back Williams penetrated deep into Irish territory on the right flank and after pretending to cross, he turned inside Kilbane and drew St. Ledger out of position. His left foot shot drew an instinctive save from Given who threw his arms up to deflect the ball away from goal.

The rebound fell kindly for Cahill who fired the ball into the back of the Irish net from ten yards range.

Half-time score: Republic of Ireland 0 - 2 Australia

Ireland stepped up the pace of their game in the second half without creating a clear-cut scoring opportunity. they worked hard but a well-organised and confident Australia worked efficiently and showed just why they have already qualified for the World Cup finals of 2010.

They were smooth and fluent in their football and despite making several substitutions, they still contrived to look well-balanced in their team-work.

The inclusion of Keith Andrews in central midfield for Ireland helped improve the quality of service to Ireland's front-runners with Caleb Folan partnering Robbie Keane but an athletic and committed Australia battled with a will.

Stephen Hunt should have done better in the 60th minute when Keane ran across the penalty area to reach a pass from Whelan and then heeled the ball towards the edge of the area for Hunt to hit. His strike from 22 yards flew across goal and wide.

Keith Andrews struck an upright and St. Ledger had a header from six yards well saved by Schwarzer before Australia finished with a flourish with a superb third goal in added time.

Full-back David Carney came forward to hammer a grat shot from 30 yards high into the net beyond the reach of substitute goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.

Full-time score: Republic of Ireland   0 - 3   Australia

The teams for tonight's match at Thomond Park were as follows:

Republic of Ireland: Shay Given (Newcastle United); John O'Shea (Manchester United), Sean St. Ledger (Preston North End), Richard Dunne (Manchester City), Kevin Kilbane (Wigan Athletic); Damien Duff (Newcastle United), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Darron Gibson (Manchester United), Aiden McGeady (Celtic); Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur), Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers). Substitutes at half-time: Caleb Folan (Hull City) for Doyle; Stephen Hunt (Reading) for Duff. Others: Keith Andrews (Blackburn Rovers) for Gibson (63), Eddie Nolan (Preston North End) for Kilbane 63, Keiren Westwood (Coventry City) for Given 68, Shane Long (Reading) for McGeady.

Australia: Mark Schwarzer; Patrick Kisnorbo, Jade North,
Rhys Williams, David Carney; Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Luke Wilkshire, Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell; Scott McDonald. Substitutes at half-time: Brett Holman for McDonald, Adrian Madaschi for Kisnorbo, Nikita Rukavytsya for Kewell. Others: Matt Spiranovic for North 72, Nick Carle for Bresciano 78.

Referee: Mr. Alfonso Perez Burrul (Spain).