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Early McClean goal can't preve...

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Early McClean goal can't prevent another frustrating night for Ireland


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An early goal from James McClean wasn't enough to give Stephen Kenny a first win as Republic of Ireland manager. 

His run in charge stretched to eleven games without a win, as his side played out a 1-1 draw with World Cup hosts Qatar in the Hungarian city of Debrecen.

A poor opening to the second half allowed the Gulf state to level the game and, much like against Luxembourg on Saturday the game petered out from there.

Kenny hinted there would be changes pre-game, and into the side came experienced hands like Shane Duffy, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, James McClean and Shane Long.

Despite the injection of age to the starting XI, they made a sprightly start in Debrecen with James McClean sweeping the ball home inside 4-minutes.

A generous Qatar defence allowed Ireland execute a nifty short corner routine, with Daryl Horgan and Robbie Brady combining to find James McClean in space on the 12-yard spot. His deflected shot found its way past Saad Al-Sheeb.

In an open first quarter-hour, Qatar were awarded - and subsequently denied a penalty.

Gavin Bazunu rushed from his goal to snuff out a threat from Pedro Miguel, making contact with the raiding Qatar full-back.

Referee Balázs Berke awarded a penalty, before consultation with his assistant determined Bazunu had made contact with Miguel just outside his box. The nominal hosts were incensed, but had to make do with a free-kick.

Chances came and went before half-time for Shane Long and Robbie Brady, who was later forced off through injury to be replaced by Troy Parrott.

Ireland's lead would last barely two minutes after the restart.

Ali Almoez was allowed run at a retreating Ireland defence, before slipping the ball to Mohammed Muntari. A diversionary run by Hasan Al-Hayos afforded Muntari the space to fire a low shot beyond the grasp of Bazunu.

Shortly after, Bazunu was equal to an Al-Haydos effort, while Muntari also caused flutters with Ireland becoming increasingly sloppy in possession.

Worryingly for Kenny, tempo dropped considerably as the second half wore on, and passing sequences became brief to non-existent.

Miguel continued to get plenty of change out of McClean on the left side of the defence, and he fed Muntari with 7-minutes remaining only for the leggy striker to fire over from 18-yards.

Callum Robinson fired wide after the wayward Al-Sheeb came for a Cyrus Christie cross and missed, leaving his defenders to scramble.

Injury time brought one final opportunity, with Al-Sheeb keeping out a Josh Cullen header.

Kenny will gather his charges once again in June for a training camp featuring friendlies against tonight's hosts and Andorra.

But the interminable wait for a first win continues.

50 years since the GAA lifted ‘the ban’ | Paul Rouse


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Ireland James Mcclean Jeff Hendrick Qatar Republic Of Ireland Robbie Brady Shane Duffy Stephen Kenny

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