Giovanni Trapattoni’s men took on his home country of Italy in Liege. We went minute-by-minute for the last game of the season Boys in Green.
19.48 – Good evening football fans. The sides have just kicked off in Liege after Irish captain led out his side for a clash with Italy.
Have I hit my head and woken in a parallel universe?
19.49 – But seriously folks, I’m genuinely pleased for the Wicklow man. He’s a game lad as Gilesy would say.
Here’s the team in full; let us know what you think.
David Forde; Paul McShane, Sean St Ledger, Darren O’Dea , Stephen Ward; Seamus Coleman, Keith Andrews, Kevin Foley, Stephen Hunt; Andy Keogh, Shane Long.
19.51 – Before we bring you the Italian side, two notes on the Sky commentator
a) I reckon he thinks he’s in Italy. He just said Tardelli is a hero around these parts because of his goal in the 1982 World Cup final.
b) Do you reckon he should know how to pronounce Keogh, if he’s commentating on an Irish game?
But don’t mind me. As Denis Waterman said in The Sweeney: I haven’t had my dinner yet.
19.53 – Here’s the Italian side. It reads like Fr Dougal Maguire doing a Latin mass: Viviano; Cassani, Gamberini, Chiellini, Criscito; Nocerino, Pirlo, Marchisio; Montolivo; Rossi, Pazzini
19.56 – Pirlo just learned what senior hurling is like. He was clattered by Tipperary’s Shane Long but Ireland were awarded a free-kick anyway.
Ward and Hunt squander it between them.
19.57 – I’m peeling on a latex dress and will presently do my best Jean Byrne impression: it’s raining heavily in Liege.
And breathe out.
20.00 – Shane Long should’ve done better there. The Reading striker and Keogh linked up well on the edge of the box and Long swivelled on a shot – but he dragged it wide.
By the way, TG4 are showing deferred coverage of this game later if you don’t have Sky or are studying for English Paper 1.
If so, as they used to say on the BBC, look away now.
20.04 – We sent our man Niall down into the archive this afternoon to find what he could of past Ireland v Italy games.
I was at both games in the World Cup campaign a couple of years ago so was pleased he didn’t produce those pictures of Bari from my Facebook account.
20.06 – Former Ireland captain Matt Holland tweets: “Italy v Rep of Ireland in a friendly in Belgium. About 3 weeks until pre season for some. Can anyone tell me why?”
20.09 – Hunty’s been booked for arguing, according to Ray Houghton. I reckon it was because he steamed in on a prostrate Pirlo.
20.16 – Italy should probably be one-up there. They won the ball in the centre circle and Pazzini ultimately drove wide.
Keith Andrews too has been booked for talking too much.
20.18 – Former Derry City ‘keeper David Forde did really well there in snuffing out the danger as Rossi barreled towards goal.
20.22 – GOAL! Keith Andrews 35′
20.24 – Italy 0 Ireland 1 – The Blackburn man makes it one-nil to the Irish – against the run of play it has to be said.
Stephen Hunt rolled a free kick on the edge of the box, Andrews took a touch and then leathered it crisply into the bottom corner.
It’s his first since his debut in 2008. Against who?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Poland.
20.28 – There’s also good news for former Ireland boss Brian Kerr. His Faroe Islands side are one up at half-time against Estonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
20.34 – It’s almost half-time in Liege, Ireland are good value for the lead in my books.
Italy have been the better side – and why wouldn’t they be – but Trap’s men are working their socks off. In contrast, they nicked a goal because the Azzurri defence couldn’t be bothered to charge down Andrews.
The whistle has, indeed, just gone and the estimated 17,000 Italian fans whistle their disapproval. What’s your verdict?
I’m getting the kettle on – here’s Nike’s farewell to Original Ronaldo.
20.36 – Zoe Ball advertising Sky’s Isle of Wight coverage? Where has she been?
20.51 – Well, well, well – Rossi and Pirlo have been given the hook by Prandelli. Trap makes no changes just yet.
We’re up and running again in Liege. To paraphrase Colin Farrell in another Belgian city: we’re still in f****** Liege.
20.59 – For those with lives; here’s Andrews’ goal. Not bad.
21.07 – Sorry for the lull; the system – not unlike my own – seems to have slowed down for a bit. I think we’re okay again thanks to some screen-punching.
Simon Cox has been introduced for an unhappy looking Shane Long while Glenn Whelan is on for Foley.
Meanwhile, to put words in Trevor Welsh’s mouth, they’ll be dancing of the streets of Faroes, as Brian Kerr’s side are two up now.
21.17 – Italy have come into this game, as you’d expect. One ball was fizzed in front David Forde’s six-yard box and another free-kick has been put over his bar.
The defensive line had fallen a bit deep for my liking now with 20 minutes to go.
21.19 – Keith Treacy’s on for Key-Oh. Coxy will have to lead the line on his own.
I’ve never won a scudetto but wouldn’t Long have done that job better? Let’s see what happens anyway – and they can all go on their holidays then.
21.24 – 15 minutes at the Stade de Sclessin. Those lovely, lovely Belgian beers are on ice.
21.27 – Darren O’Dea has been replaced by Stephen Kelly at the back as the Celtic man leaves the pitch injured. Damien Delaney – as Houghton alludes to – will be disappointed to miss out.
21.30 – Stephen Hunt – the mad eejit – just charged down a Montolivo free-kick on goal. The wall, admittedly, was about five feet from the ball.
But the Irish are working like demons here for the win. There’s five minutes left. Do we fancy it out there in computer land?
21.34 – GOAL! Ireland 2 Italy 0, Simon Cox 89′
21.35 – As the fourth official indicated there’d be a stomach-churning five minutes, Stephen Hunt got around the back of the full back and squared for Cox.
The Wes Brom man looked to hurt himself as he slid in for the crucial second. Finito.
21.36 – Our Facebook pals seem to have been won over tonight. It’s been quite a journey, as the Americans like to say.
Here’s one comment: “No matter how pointless that game might have been , fair play to trapp and those kids beat Italy at their own game! More of these friendlies, maybe play Barca up in the Shetland islands….”
21.37 – Damien Delaney is on for a 90-second cameo.
21.40 – FULL TIME Ireland 2 Italy 0
21.49 – Keith Andrews: “There was was a joke to be fair so i just took a touch and I was glad to see it go in. The win shows how far we’ve come. ”
“All the crap thats been going on about players not turning up hasn’t meant anything to us.”
Simon Cox: “It’s been a dream come true to represent the country, and it’s great to get the goal. We defended like warriors. We knew we’d have to keep that tempo of pressing. The lads put in an unbelievable shift.”
21.59 – So that’s your lot. It’s not a bad way to end the season.
Next up is Slovakia in September in Ballsbridge. The Irish players head for the beaches and nightclubs of southern Europe – and deservedly so.
But we’ll be back in the morning. Do join us.