Manager Stephen Kenny during an Ireland press conference at Parc des Princes in Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

McClean receives a beautiful ovation as Stephen Kenny’s tenure ends with yet another grim performance

Stephen Kenny’s time in charge of the national team has ended in a 1-1 draw with the 103rd ranked team in the world in yet another dull watch.

Pre match there seemed to be a real negative atmosphere in the ground with some boo’s ringing out in the ground when Kenny’s name was called out. A sign of things to come.

It was in the 10th minute when James McClean thought it was his moment to crown off a wonderful senior international career after some nice link up play between Jason Knight and Man of the Match Mikey Johnston led to a chance for McClean just inside the area but was blocked by Michael Boxall.

The first big chance of the game fell to the Irish around the 15 minute mark after Adam Idah played a lovely dinked ball in behind to Jason Knight who held it for Idah’s returning run but what to looked to be a tap in for the Cork man was ruined as Matt Doherty somehow got in his path and hit it out for a goal kick to New Zealand.

Ireland took the lead on the 28 minute mark through Adam Idah. After great hassling of Sligo Rovers defender Nando Pijnaker , Mark Sykes won the ball off the Kiwi then layed it off to Idah who one on one with the keeper finished expertly. 

It seemed Ireland would cruise to a comfortable victory after the goal went in but by god was that not the case.

New Zealand started extremely poorly but suddenly came to life in the 37th minute after an effort from Sapreet Singh. Singh struck an effort that looked to be sailing into the top corner but was superbly stopped by Caoimhin Kelleher with his fingertips.

The effort seemed to bring some life into the Kiwi’s as they went onto have a five minute spell of dominance penning the Irish into their own half.

Ireland continued to look flat as the second half kicked off with a big chance falling to Matthew Garbett who somehow failed to trouble the recently introduced Mark Travers.

Shane Duffy probably thought he could have done better in the 56th minute after James McClean whipped in a wonderful delivery but Duffy headed it straight into Max Crocombe’s hands.

New Zealand struck gold on the 58 minute through Matthew Garbett from just outside the area. With Andrew Omobamidele out of position, a pass from Singh to Tim Payne was intercepted by Duffy but fell to the number seven who struck the ball into the bottom left hand corner leaving Travers with no chance.

A couple of minutes later, New Zealand nearly went 2-1 up, but a superb strike from Singh was matched by an even better save from Mark Travers.

One of few moments to remember from tonight was when James McClean came off the Lansdowne Road tuff for the very last time in the 66th minute receiving a beautiful ovation from everyone in attendance whilst being embraced by all 11 Irishman who were on the pitch with him.

It was in the 78th minute when the Irish fans got their biggest cheer of the night when potential superstar Andrew Moran made his international debut. Hopefully this is the start of something special for the Knocklyon native.

Substitute Evan Ferguson had Ireland’s best chance of the second half with five minutes to go but his curling effort was smartly saved by New Zealand’s number 12.

The game finished at one a piece with the Irish failing to impress once more. A disappointing but yet not surprising way for Stephen Kenny to bow out of his dream job.

Manager Stephen Kenny during an Ireland press conference at Parc des Princes in Paris, France. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
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