08.10.2004 at 19:00 stade de l'Aube - Troyes
Referee: Kuddusi Muftuoglu (Turkey).
Paddy Mc Carthy
Aidan Mc Geady
Didot for Fae 67 mins,
Faubert for Mathieu 67 mins,
Taider for Garx 87 mins,
Gallic perseverance secures narrow win over Irish
Saturday, October 09, 2004
France U-21 1 Republic of Ireland U-21 0
By Ian Parkes, Troyes
THE Republic of Ireland Under-21s’ hopes of qualifying for the 2006 European Championship finals suffered a late hammer-blow against France last night.
Following a 4-2 defeat to Switzerland a month ago, this was a match manager Don Givens’ side could not afford to lose at the Stade de l’Aube in Troyes.
The Irish proceeded to produce a stout rearguard display against France and came within just six minutes of what would have been a precious point from this Group Four clash.
The first-half was nondescript - although France controlled the game in terms of possession, they barely created a noteworthy chance. Sebastien Grax sent a ninth-minute header wide, and then, just before the break, Liverpool striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle produced a fine save from Notts County ’keeper Wayne Henderson.
In between, Ireland’s one and only chance of the opening 45 minutes came in the 28th minut when Darren Potter sent Stephen Capper clean through, only for the Scarborough defender to have the ball whipped off his toes by Jeremy Gavanon.
Jeremy Toulalan, Franck Ribery and Sinama-Pongolle all put the Ireland defence under pressure early in the second half. In the 56th minute, France should have broken the deadlock when Emerse Fae dispossessed Glen Whelan before sending Grax clean through, but from 10 yards the striker drove his shot just wide.
Ireland swiftly responded through lively Manchester City winger Willo Flood. But Gavanon blocked his first close-range effort, and then from the rebound a second bite at the cherry was sent into the side-netting.
In the 76th minute, the chance appeared to have arrived for France to finally open the scoring when Ireland captain Stephen Kelly clearly brought down Grax inside the box.
But Ireland were let off the hook when Sinama-Pongolle drove his spot-kick wide of the right-hand post.
Then, though, in the 84th minute - when Aiden McGeady became the third Ireland player booked in the second half, following yellow cards for Paddy McCarthy and Henderson - France grabbed the winning goal.
This time, Sinama-Pongolle made amends by lofting in the free-kick from just outside the right-hand edge of the area - and from 12 yards Drouin rose unchallenged to head home.
Ireland did have one final chance to snatch a point when McGeady thundered in a rasping 20-yard drive, but Gavanon was equal to it as he pushed away the ball - and with it the visitors’ last-ditch hopes.
FRANCE U21: Gavanon, Drouin, Berthod, Faty, Aubey, Toulalan, Fae, Ribery, Mathieu, Sinama Pongolle, Grax.
REP OF IRELAND U21: Henderson, Kelly, Capper, Fitzgerald, McCarthy, Whelan, Flood, Potter, Daryl Murphy, Tabb, McGeady.
Referee: Kuddusi Muftuoglu (Turkey).
Irish aim to wipe Swiss miss from memory in France
Friday, October 08, 2004
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 manager Don Givens is eager to erase from the memory his side’s Swiss miss.
A run of 13 games without defeat came to an end last month when the Republic were beaten 4-2 by Switzerland in Berne.
The result severely dented Ireland’s European Championship qualifying hopes just days after they had confidently began their campaign with an easy 3-0 triumph over Cyprus.
It has since been a long four weeks for Givens, although his task does not become any easier because Ireland take on group favourites France at the Stade de l’Aube in Troyes tonight.
"What we cannot afford is to follow our loss against the Swiss with a loss in France," assessed Givens.
"But I’ve a good group of players and they won’t need any reminding of what happened in Switzerland.
"One bad result doesn’t make a bad team and just because we conceded four goals, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. I am confident we will make amends. We’ve a chance to wipe what happened from the memory. If we get a positive result, then the Switzerland game gets forgotten.
"We are a decent side and hopefully, we will put it right. I will be stressing the fact it is vital to get something from this game."
Although Givens is not fearful of the French, he realises they are a formidable team as he added: "if you asked me now I would take a draw."
The strength in depth of the French team was underlined in their last match when Gael Clichy, highly rated at Arsenal, was only a substitute in a 1-0 victory over Israel.
"They have a big pool of players to pick from, maybe as much as 10 times more than we have, so they are going to be strong."
Givens’ problems, though, were compounded this week when U21 all-time leading scorer Stephen Elliott was forced to withdraw from the 18-man squad with an ankle knock, while Sean Thornton is also sidelined with a groin injury.