Under-16 International Friendly
France 0-0 Republic of Ireland
There were no goals this evening in Paris as a vastly improved Republic of Ireland performance resulted in a draw against a quality France team.
Irish manager Vincent Butler included in his team all seven members of the 18-player squad who didn’t start in Tuesday’s first game between the nations.
France had beaten Ireland 3-0 in that fixture courtesy of a first-half penalty and two further goals scored midway through the second period.
Ireland were keen to make up for that defeat and set about their task of claiming victory by putting the hosts under pressure from the early stages.
They could have taken an advantage into the half-time break after Robert Benson missed a splendid chance to open the scoring.
The Athlone Town midfielder had a clear sight of goal but struck his close-range shot directly at the France goalkeeper.
Oliver Kelly was also denied by the home side’s stopper shortly before half-time as Ireland took control of the game.
Their best opportunity of scoring in the second half fell at the feet of Mark O’Brien, whose shot glanced the post and went wide.
France produced a rally late on and could have snatched victory at the death but the upright saved Ireland from what would have been undeserved defeat.
Ireland manager Vincent Butler said afterwards: “We played a lot better than in the first game and had more chances to score than France tonight.
“Our attacks caused them problems and we were probably unlucky not to come away with a win.
“Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat was disappointing because the score-line didn’t reflect how much we were in the game.”
Ireland are next in action during the first week of February when they travel to face Israel in another double-header.
Butler will have plenty of selection options to mull over before he finalises his squad for those fixtures.
“We’ve assessed 27 players in action between these two matches against France as well as the double-header against Belgium last week,” he said. “I’ve been pleased with the level of performance from the players.”
Republic of Ireland:
Josh Byrne – Waterford Bohemians
John Disney – Stockport County
Mark O’Brien – Cherry Orchard (captain)
Danny Fitzsimons – Millwall
Danny Joyce - Belvedere
Sean Stewart - St. Kevin’s Boys
Oliver Kelly – Reading for
Eoin Wearan – St. Kevin’s Boys
Robert Benson - Athlone Town
Ryan Connolly – Ballyglass
Robert Brady - St. Kevin’s Boys
Leigh Swords – Belvedere for Disney (70 mins)
Stephen McDonnell - Quay Celtic for Benson (75 mins)
Jeffrey Hendrick - St. Kevin’s Boys for Wearan (78 mins)
Substitutes not used:
Aaron McCarey - Monaghan United
John Egan - Greenwood
John Gorman – Manchester United
Conor Murphy - St. Kevin’s Boys.