Republic of Ireland 4
AT the 12th time of asking, the Republic of Ireland secured their first win under Stephen Kenny as they came from behind to beat Andorra 4-1 on the astro-turf at the Estadi Nacional on Thursday evening.
First international goals from Troy Parrott (2), Jason Knight, and former Cork City attacker Daryl Horgan were enough to earn the Boys in Green their first victory since defeating New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in November 2019.
From a Cork perspective, John Egan captained the side and started in the heart of the defence with Conor Hourihane, who joined up with the Irish camp as soon as he could following Swansea’s championship playoff final defeat at Wembley last Saturday, started in midfield.
Caoimhin Kelleher, Adam Idah, and Chiedozie Ogbene, who was a doubt for the match with a thigh strain, had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.
Ireland failed to settle the nerves of the watching fans at home, and the lucky few that somehow managed to gain entry to the stadium, inside the opening 32 minutes as they failed to create a genuine goal-scoring opportunity.
Only a Dara O’Shea header and a long-range strike from Josh Cullen - both following dangerous set pieces from Hourihane - would be as close as they would come to scoring.
Of the 11 winless games during Kenny’s reign, the Irish failed to register a goal in eight of those but they started to move the ball quicker as half-time approached and they ought to have broken the deadlock through James Collins.
After a neat passage of play, Jason Knight’s superb cross picked out the run of Collins but the Cardiff City striker could only turn his header wide of the far post from a few yards out.
The visitors didn’t improve after the interval and in the 52nd-minute disaster struck as some really poor marking from the Irish defence allowed Marc Vales to expertly loop a floated free-kick into the roof of the net.
But Ireland, to their credit, responded well to that setback largely thanks to Troy Parrott, who scored twice in just over three minutes to rescue his country.
His first saw him charge past numerous Andorra defenders before coolly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner while his second was a towering header at the back post from Hourihane’s cross.
Idah was introduced on 66 minutes but the game ended as tamely as it started although the Republic would seal the win with a close-range finish from Knight and a diving header from Horgan from a similar position in the closing stages.
ANDORRA: Iker (Francisco Pires 77); Moisés San Nicolás (Eric De Pablos 72), Marc Vales, Max Llovera, Joan Cervós; Ludovic Clemente (Cristian Martínez 55), Marc Rebés (Christian Garcia 72), Marcio Vieira, Alex Martinez (IIdefons Lima 77); Jordi Aláez, Ricard Fernandez (Aaron Sánchez 55).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Gavin Bazunu; Matt Doherty, Dara O’Shea (Shane Duffy 87), John Egan, James McClean (Ryan Manning 87); Josh Cullen, Jason Knight, Conor Hourihane (Harry Arter 87); Ronan Curtis (Daryl Horgan 66), James Collins (Adam Idah 66), Troy Parrott (Jamie McGrath 83).
Referee: Xavier Estrada Fernandez (Spain).