23.01.2007 at 19:00 Home Farm Ground Whitehall
Rep of Ireland
1 - 0
Referee: Conor Fitzgerald.
Friendly / TS-match
James Mc Carthy
Conor Mc Cormack
Tuesday 23rd January 2007
Gareth Matthews with a headed goal after 22 minutes gave Ireland a deserved victory over Italy in the first of a double header against the Italians.
The crucial goal came when Matthews, of Norwich City, headed home a free kick that was curled in from the right by from Liverpool winger Shane O'Connor after 22 minutes of play.
Ireland were worthy winners and had numerous chances to add to their lead. Shane O'Connor came close to making it 2-0 on the half-hour mark with a free-kick that was tipped over by Italy goalkeeper Viotti.
Two more chances fell to the Liverpool midfielder in the second half but on both occasions, his shots angled over the crossbar.
This was not a grab and run victory as the corner count of nine for and three against indicates. This was a polished performance where despite the number of new faces in the squad augers well for the future.
The Irish squad are preparing for the upcoming UEFA Elite stage qualifiers, which take place in Germany from 21st – 26th March where they have been drawn against Scotland, Greece and host nation Germany.
James McCarthy made his debut for Ireland and the Hamilton Academical midfielder contributed to the victory with his array of passing. His central- midfield partner, Conor McCormack, was also influential as he set up plenty of Irish attacks.
Italy did have the ball in the net in injury time but Albertazzi's header was ruled out for off-side.
The nations meet again on Thursday at Tolka Park (7pm) in the second fixture of the double-header.
Ireland: Kieron Thorp - Crystal Palace, Gareth Matthews – Norwich City, Mark Nolan - Glasgow Celtic, David Joyce - Birmingham City, Paul Honohan – Wilton, Kurtis Byrne - Norwich City, Conor McCormack - Manchester United, James McCarthy - Hamilton Academical, Shane O'Connor – Liverpool, Craig Duggan - Kilreen, Cork, Sean Scannell - Crystal Palace.
SUBS: Ian Daly - Manchester City for Scannell, Conor Kavanagh - Blackburn Rovers for Nolan & Eric Foley - Glasgow Celtic for Byrne (All half-time), Ian Byrne – Bohemians for O'Connor (64 mins), James Cronesberry - Middlesborough for Duggan (75 mins), Niall McArdle – Sunderland for Matthews (77 mins).
Italy: Viotti, Grea, Albertazzi, Tuia, Marrone, Marco, Fernando, Paloschi, Pasquale, Masi, Ciano.