Following a turbulent week, the Republic of Ireland have beaten Oman 4-1 in a senior friendly international at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.
An experimental and youthful Irish lineup needed a replacement before kickoff as Paul McShane fell ill and he was replaced in the starting XI by Seán St. Ledger at the heart of the Irish defence.
The Boys in Green dominated almost from start to finish with debutant Robbie Brady the star man until he was substituted by Aiden McGeady midway through the second half.
Ireland took the lead after seven minutes when Brady floated over a right wing free kick which found St. Ledger at the back post. The centre half did very well to reach the ball and head back across goal for Shane Long to provide a simple headed finish from three yards out.
The Irish were 2-0 up midway through the first half when Brady crashed a terrific first time volley low and hard into the corner from 25 yards out.
Brady then set up a second goal ten minutes before half time with another excellently delivered free-kick which was turned home by skipper Kevin Doyle for his 12th international goal. Captain for the night Doyle had also won the free-kick which led to the goal.
Following a host of substitutions, the second half of the game lost its shape somewhat and with 18 minutes to play Muhaiyri set up the unmarked Al Farsi on the left-side of the Irish box and he slotted his shot past substitute goalkeeper Darron Randolph.
That goal proved to be no more than a consolation however as Alex Pearce became the second debutant to score for Ireland on the night with five minutes to play. Fellow debutant David Meyler, who had been lively and put himself about all night, won a corner when his powerful shot from the edge of the box was pushed away by Oman’s star man, goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and from the resultant corner Pearce headed home.
Overall this was a much improved performance from the Republic of Ireland, with a number of young players playing a central role, including a 30 minute cameo from James McClean.
There was in fact some free flowing passing football on display on the night. Whether this free flowing football will be mirrored when Ireland play Germany in a World Cup qualifier in Dublin next month, remains to be seen. I for one remain skeptical.
Whether Trapattoni’s experimentation and trying out of the plethora of up and coming players in this game is replicated against the Germans is something which I am even more skeptical about.
Republic of Ireland: David Forde (Millwall); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City), Marc Wilson (Stoke City), Robbie Brady (Manchester United), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic), David Meyler (Sunderland), Andy Keogh (Millwall), Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin Doyle (Wolves). Substitutes: Darren Randolph (Motherwell) for Forde (46), Alex Pearce (Reading) for Wilson (46), James McClean (Sunderland) for Doyle (61), Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest) for McCarthy (65), Joey O’Brien (West Ham United) for Long (70).
Oman: Ali Al Habsi, Hassan Mudhafar, Mohammed Al Balushi, Saad Suhai, Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini, Abdul Aziz Al Muqbal, Eid Mohammed, Juma Darwish, Mohammed Al Musalami, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Emad Al Hosny.