The Republic of Ireland drew 1-1 with the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium in their final warm-up game before manager Giovanni Trapattoni names his 23-man squad for Euro 2012.
Republic of Ireland 1
Czech Republic 1
The ummarked Milan Baros scored the opening goal of the game five minutes into the second half when he tucked past Shay Given when played in by Jan Rezek on the right-hand-side.
However, four minutes from time, West Bromwich Albion striker Shane Cox tucked the ball under Petr Cech for a leveller following tenacious play from clubmate Keith Andrews to win the ball in midfield.
Trapattoni opted to start with a strong XI, which meant Given won a record 121st cap in goal. However, the concession of the goal meant the Italian’s pre-match promise to give a debut to Everton’s Shane Duffy, whose father Brian is from Letterkenny, was not fulfilled. His fellow Derry native, James McClean of Sunderland, was brought on for his first international appearance, which brought one of the biggest cheers of the night 12 minutes from time.
Seamus Coleman endured a frustrating night as he was left sitting on the bench as he was against Norway 15 months ago. It was a similar story for Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy, who was also an unused substitute as Trapattoni brought on Stephen Hunt, Paul Green, Jonathan Walters, Cox and McClean.
An uneventful first half saw few chances. Andrews sent a booming long ball for Robbie Keane to chase onto and the LA Galaxy striker took it down well but he hit his first shot at goalkeeper Cech before miskicking the follow-up.
Rezek made a positive burst forward down the right and cut inside John O’Shea before unleashing a shot that had Given scrambling. The Irish goalkeeper did well to palm it away from Baros and the ball was cleared.
Trapattoni has already confirmed the actual squad for the finals will be announced in advance of the next friendlies, against Bosnia Herzegovina on May 26 in Dublin and Hungary in Budapest on June 4.
Ireland then play Croatia in Poznan on June 10 in their first game of Euro 2012 and world and European champions Spain in Gdansk on June 14 before returning to Poznan to face Trapattoni’s native Italy four days later.
Ireland: Shay Given; Sean St.Ledger, Stephen Ward, John O’Shea, Darren O’Dea; Glenn Whelan [Paul Green ‘63], Aiden McGeady [James McClean ‘78], Keith Andrews, Damien Duff [Stephen Hunt ‘63]; Robbie Keane (c) [Simon Cox ‘71], Shane Long [Jonathan Walters ‘71].
SUBS NOT USED: David Forde, Shane Duffy, Seamus Coleman, Kevin Foley, James McCarthy, Stephen Henderson.
Czech Republic: Petr Cech (c); Theodor Gebreselassie [Frantisek Rajtoral ‘67], Michal Kadlec, David Limbersky, Tomas Sivok; Milan Petrzela [Vaclav Pilar ‘67], Jan Rezek [Tomas Pekhart ‘87], Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek [Tomas Hubschmann HT]; Jiri Stajner [David Lafata ‘59]; Milan Baros [Daniel Kolar ‘59].
SUBS NOT USED: Jaroslav Drobny, Jan Rajnoch, Daniel Pudil.
Referee: Manuel Jorge Neves Moreira de Sousa (Portugal)