herald

Monday 21 January 2019

fans enjoy another dream team win, now bring on the euros...

The attendance may have been sparse but the result ahead of key European championship qualifiers was welcomed nonetheless.

Only the die-hard fans turned up last night for the Ireland v Oman soccer friendly at the Aviva stadium.

Those who did make their way to support the national side were rewarded with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from striker Kevin Doyle and defender Alex Pearce in each half.

For Shane Baldwin (6) from Gracefield Avenue in Artane, the excitement of his first-ever Ireland international match was almost overwhelming.

Flanked by dad Stuart and brothers Conor (11) and Cathal (9), Shane was oblivious to the half-empty stadium and soaked up every second.

CHANCE

Stuart saw the match as "a bit more than a run out, but a chance to make a final decision on the goalkeeper position" in reference to Shay Given's return ahead of Sunday's European championship qualifier in Tblisi, Georgia.

Fans like Mark Conlon and Ciara Carberry from Ardee, Co Louth also believed the match was the last chance for manager Martin O'Neill to assess players before the Georgia match.

"It gives a few lads a chance to show what they can do," said Mark.

Brian Doyle from Donaghmede, however, reckoned that the manager had already picked his team for the Georgia match and last night's game was "more of a warm up".

His friend Khalid Gamudi, also from Donaghmede, agreed. "We're just here to have a good time. It's just a friendly game," he stressed.

Last night's match was the eighth game since the dream team of O'Neill and Roy Keane took over from Giovanni Trapattoni last November. They have had mixed success with two wins, three defeats and three draws.

However, greater challenges await next month. After two qualifier matches against Georgia and Gibraltar, we face the might of Germany away who are fresh from their World Cup triumph.

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