Drab goalless draw in Dublin

Date published: Sunday 7th June 2015 2:53

It was the first time England had played in Dublin since crowd trouble caused a friendly in February 1995 to be abandoned after only 27 minutes, but while this match thankfully passed off without incident off the pitch, there was precious little to stir the blood on it.

It was nonetheless a memorable occasion for England forward Jamie Vardy and Ireland midfielder Harry Arter, both of whom made their international debuts.

Both teams will now switch their attentions to 2016 European Championship qualifiers next weekend, when Ireland host Scotland in a key Group D fixture and England look to extend their 100 per cent record in Group E away to Slovenia.

A small number of home fans whistled during ‘God Save the Queen’, but it was Liverpool contract rebel Raheem Sterling who bore the brunt of their ire.

Generally, though, the atmosphere was as flat as a pancake, reflecting a drab game with a distinct end-of-term feel.

England’s probings, generally instigated by midfield anchor Jack Wilshere, came to nought, and it was Ireland who created what few chances there were in the first half.

Daryl Murphy jabbed fractionally wide from Jeff Hendrick’s flick-on, while David McGoldrick, Murphy’s Ipswich Town team-mate, saw a shot deflected behind by Gary Cahill.

It was not until a minute before half-time that England mustered an attempt at goal, Adam Lallana cutting in from the left and shooting over.

England captain Wayne Rooney was a virtual bystander in the first half and when Jordan Henderson’s pass gave him a clear run on goal early in the second, his touch betrayed him.

The game began to open up a bit though, with England goalkeeper Joe Hart ferrying a Robbie Brady free-kick around his near post and parrying from substitute Jon Walters at one end, and Sterling shooting wide at the other.

A gaggle of Irish substitutions early in the second half included a debut for Bournemouth midfielder Arter, who replaced Glenn Whelan.

Leicester City striker Vardy entered the fray with 16 minutes to play, replacing Rooney, to complete a remarkable three-year ascent from non-league to international football.

After Arter had drilled wide following a run from deep, England substitute Andros Townsend took aim from distance, but Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, who had replaced Keiren Westwood, got down well to keep the visitors without a win in Ireland since a 3-1 friendly victory in May 1964.

Watch the Republic of Ireland v Scotland next Saturday live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 4pm.

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