Saturday 10 December 2016

Fifty supporters witness 'behind closed doors' goalless draw at Aviva

Republic of Ireland 0 Northern Ireland 0

James Donoghue and Declan Whooley

Published 04/06/2015 | 17:55

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane shakes hands with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll at the end of the game.
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane shakes hands with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll at the end of the game.
4 June 2015; Referee Paul McLaughlin with captains Stephen Ward, far right, Republic of Ireland, and Steven Davis, far left, Northern Ireland, and linesmen Robert Clarke, second from left, and Wayne McDonnell, second from right. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
4 June 2015; Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Today’s international friendly between Ireland and Northern Ireland was watched behind closed doors by around fifty fans.

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The behind-closed-doors match wasn't as exclusive as the FAI thought as a few fans managed to get into the empty stadium. FAI chief executive John Delaney confirmed later on RTE Radio's The Ray D'Arcy Show that he hand-picked a number of ball boys for the game.

Supporters from both camps emerged from the friendly encounter in which Martin O’Neill’s charges were held to a goalless draw.

The cluster of Irish fans which exited the stadium seemed relatively pleased with a better second half performance from the Boys in Green after the visitors hit the crossbar in the opening 45 minutes and missed a one-on-one in a game where Harry Arter pulled on a green jersey for the first time.

4 June 2015; Referee Paul McLaughlin with captains Stephen Ward, far right, Republic of Ireland, and Steven Davis, far left, Northern Ireland, and linesmen Robert Clarke, second from left, and Wayne McDonnell, second from right. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
4 June 2015; Referee Paul McLaughlin with captains Stephen Ward, far right, Republic of Ireland, and Steven Davis, far left, Northern Ireland, and linesmen Robert Clarke, second from left, and Wayne McDonnell, second from right. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Following a disappointing first half, O'Neill decided to shake things up by withdrawing Aiden McGeady, James McClean and Cyrus Christie.

Indeed both sides made a raft of changes at the break, while Michael O'Neill's side also had a change of strip, reverting to their own blue away kit after playing the opening 45 minutes in the Republic's away jersey.

4 June 2015; Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
4 June 2015; Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland, in action against Daryl Murphy, Republic of Ireland. Training Match, Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

A more positive display from Ireland after the interval saw Hull duo of David Meyler and Stephen Quinn, along with recently released former team-mate Paul McShane, feature heavily as the home side enjoyed the lion's share of possession. 

Ultimately neither side could break the deadlock with England next up for the home side in Sunday's international friendly.

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