Tuesday 20 March 2018

Game at a glance

Man of the match

Robbie Keane

The Ireland captain's unhappy reaction to being taken off made a mockery of his team-mates who chose not to show. An early fluffed chance made it look like he might have carried his West Ham form into this clash, but he grew into the game and edged himself towards 50 international goals with a sharp, clinical display.

Talking point

The fledgling tournament's reputation took a battering again at the Aviva Stadium. Fans -- and indeed some players -- voted with their feet and Ireland's biggest ever win against the North followed two 3-0 scorelines in February. Scotland and Ireland look vastly superior and the timing is denying managers their best players. A revamp is needed.

Referee watch

This was a tepid enough derby and Craig Thomson had little to do until he sent teenager Adam Thompson off for denying Robbie Keane a goal. At 3-0, the only card of the game was legally correct, but it defied common sense.

Crowd watch

Even with the paltry attendance (15,092), there were still some unpleasant moments at the Aviva Stadium as both anthems -- and Mary McAleese -- were disrespected, Robbie Keane went out of his way to celebrate in front of the small visiting support and the Gardai moved into the away section during the second half to remove a banner.

And finally ...

New boys Simon Cox and Stephen Ward will give Giovanni Trapattoni -- in need of some good news -- a real lift after scoring on their debuts. West Brom striker Cox provided the Italian with a new kind of option up front, neatly linking the play, while former Bohemian Ward was solid in defence and attacked dangerously up the left.

Match stats

Yellow cards: Ireland 0; Northern Ireland 0

Red cards: Ireland 0; Northern Ireland 1 (Thompson 53)

Shots on target: Ireland 9; Northern Ireland 0

Shots off target: Ireland 12; Northern Ireland 1

Corners: Ireland 5; Northern Ireland 1

Possession: Ireland 54pc; Northern Ireland 46pc

Irish Independent

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