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Ireland 0 Wales 0: Winless Nations League run continues as Stephen Kenny's men draw another blank

Ireland 0 Wales 0

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Ireland struggled once again to find the net in the UEFA Nations League tie against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Ireland struggled once again to find the net in the UEFA Nations League tie against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Ireland struggled once again to find the net in the UEFA Nations League tie against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

That’s 390 minutes and counting – the amount of time Ireland have been playing international football this season, scoring just one goal, Shane Duffy’s header from a corner in Sofia last month.

It’s not a new problem, and it’s not a problem new manager Stephen Kenny has made. Martin O’Neill and Mick McCarthy’s teams couldn’t score either in 2018 and 2019.

But it is Kenny’s job to solve it, and solve it before this dreadful run of scoreless draws and 1-0 defeats over the last two years condemns Ireland to also-ran status in international football.

Maybe he might have a rethink about bringing Robbie Keane into his coaching team. Robbie is Ireland’s record-goal scorer, and he’s also already on the FAI payroll. It could only help.

After a week of chaos off the pitch, culminating in the FAI interim Chief Executive, Gary Owens, having a go at Kenny before the game over the travelling party to Bratislava last Tuesday, a dull, drab draw such as this at the Aviva Stadium was the last thing anyone wanted. But are we surprised we got it?

To make things worse, James McClean’s late dismissal for a wild challenge on Ethan Ampadu means Kenny will be down another body for Wednesday’s game away to Finland. It really has been a week to forget for Irish football – both on the playing side and the administration end too.

Now a new week will begin with Kenny hurriedly scouring Britain, and perhaps the League of Ireland as well, for players to fill out his subs bench for Helsinki on Wednesday. There were a few green shoots amid the dross and the silence in D4. Brighton midfielder Jayson Molumby looked like a player who could grow into an international footballer.

He moved the ball around in the manner the manager wants of his charges and for one so young, he did not shirk the responsibility of asking for the ball.

After spending last season out on loan at Millwall, the hope is now that he gets time on the pitch with his club in the Premier League.

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Cyrus Christie too made an impact when he came on in a defensive reshuffle. But then right back is hardly a position in which Kenny is stuck for options.

Jack Byrne must be wondering where his place is in the Irish scheme of things. An unused sub last Thursday and the same again in this game, the Shamrock Rovers man saw four players, who weren’t in the original thoughts of the boss when he first named the squad for this window, get on the pitch against Wales.

Regardless of who played, the 11 Irishmen out on the pitch at any one time could not score a goal. Robbie Brady flashed a shot wide in the first half and sub Daryl Horgan whipped his drive over the Welsh crossbar in the second.

There were a few other moments when Ireland almost worked their way through the Welsh defensive wall, yet they could not create the opening. For all the passing and all the possession, Ireland carried little enough threat in front of Wayne Hennessy in the Wales goal. It’s becoming a bad habit now.

The fact is that our international football team is in a grim state, and the next two years don’t promise much better, not at least until some of the Under-21’s Kenny used to manage mature, as Molumby is doing, earn starting roles with their clubs and give the scene a whole new impetus.

Because our Boys in Green are going nowhere at the moment, except sliding down the FIFA rankings with the World Cup qualifying draw looming.


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