Ireland win Carling Nations Cup with impeccable record
CARLING NATIONS CUP 2011
Rep. of Ireland
Ireland show impressive consistency with three winning performances
The Republic of Ireland celebrated their first win over Scotland in Dublin in 48 years by lifting the inaugural Carling Nations Cup with an impeccable record after a round robin series that also involved Northern Ireland and Wales.
The Republic won all three matches and manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be particularly pleased that the team went through the tournament without conceding a goal.
This amounted to a magnificent tribute to a defence that was missing so many of Ireland's most experienced players and included a debutant in Stephen Ward for the final two matches against Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Most pleased of all, one suspects, was goalkeeper Shay Given. His season was ruined by a shoulder injury that kept him out of Ireland's most recent international matches and also ruined his prospects of winning back his number one spot with Manchester City.
The win over Scotland was achieved after a very difficult challenge from a committed Scotland who would not have been flattered had they achieved a draw.
Indeed Scotland dominated the final twenty minutes and will look back regretting the inability of their team captain, Kenny Miller, to convert their best opportunity. Miller had strong claims for a penalty denied but when he worked clear of the defence in the 88th minute he looked odds on to score but drove his shot wide as Stephen Kelly and goalkeeper Given put pressure on him.
Ireland's central defender, Stephen Kelly, was voted 'Man of the Match' and he said afterwards: "It was a great week for us and we are very pleased to have won the Carling Nations Cup.
"To win any international game is great and it will give us the confidence to go on now and concentrate on the UEFA match against Macedonia next Saturday.
"The good work we have done in the past week will stand to us and we will be hoping to take that into the game in Macedonia."
Ireland celebrated with champagne and ticker-tape at the presentation of the attractive new trophy. It was their first trophy win since 1986 when Ireland, under Jack Charlton, won a tournament in Iceland.
Team captain Robbie Keane illustrated once again just why he is a special talent by scoring the winning goal. It came in the 23rd minute when Keane took a pass from Paul McShane and ran from inside his own half before firing a left-foot shot under the body of goalkeeper Allan McGregor from 25 yards.
Keane's achievement brought his tally of goals to 49 in 107 internationals for Ireland, a return that places him amongst the most efficient goal-scorers in the international game. His total brought him level on goals scored with England's historic record-holder, Bobby Charlton.
Keane said afterwards: "The talk all week was of Bobby Charlton's record so it was nice to equal that but the important thing is that it is good to win any game and I believed we deserved to do that.
"The win will help to keep our confidence up and we can concentrate now on the upcoming game against Macedonia in the UEFA Championship and we must focus on that for Saturday.
"Wed've had a good week, we've won both our matches and we will hope to take that good feeling into our next match."
CARLING NATIONS CUP
08/02/'11 - Republic of Ireland 3-0 Wales Report
09/02/'11 - Scotland 3-0 Northern Ireland Report
24/05/'11 - Republic of Ireland 5 - 0 Northern Ireland Report
25/05/'11 - Wales 1 - 3 Scotland Report
27/05/'11 - Northern Ireland 0 - 2 Wales Report
29/05/'11 - Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Scotland Report
3 - Robbie Keane (R of I) - one pen,
2 - Kenny Miller (Scotland), Robert Earnshaw (Wales).
1 - Darron Gibson (R of I), Damien Duff (R of I), Keith Fahey (R of I), Stephen Ward (R of I), James McArthur (Scotland), Kris Commons (Scotland), James Morrison (Scotland), Cristof Berra (Scotland), Simon Cox (R of I), Aaron Ramsey (Wales).
Own Goals: Craig Cathcart (Northern Ireland)