THE silence lasted 90 seconds.
That’s how long it took Kevin Kilbane to wipe out Andorra’s shock lead at Lansdowne Road nine years ago. And while further goals by Mark Kinsella and Gary Breen secured a 3-1 win for Ireland en route to the 2002 World Cup finals, there was no hiding the Republic’s discomfort during a scrappy, scruffy match played in wet conditions in April, 2001.
“It wasn’t me who said we were going to get 10 goals, and I never said it was going to be easy,” Mick McCarthy reflected after his 50th match in charge, with Roy Keane, Damien Duff and Niall Quinn out through injury.
Andorra’s part-timers stunned 34,000 spectators when Ildefons Lima headed the ball into Shay Given’s net from a well-worked corner kick after 31 minutes. Captain Lima hopes to repeat the feat at the Aviva Stadium.
Kilbane’s quick equaliser settled nerves, and nine minutes before the interval Kinsella shot Ireland in front after Gary Doherty, in his first competitive international, hit the bar. With Robbie Keane rested to avoid possible suspension against Portugal, Ireland struggled to kill off the minnows, whose time-wasting tactics and physical approach annoyed McCarthy and his players, until stand-in captain Breen converted from an Ian Harte free-kick after 76 minutes. Ireland remained unbeaten in Group 2, finishing second to Portugal on goal difference and ahead of Holland. McCarthy’s team won a play-off against Iran to reach the finals in Asia.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Given, Gary Kelly, Dunne, Breen (Staunton, 84), Harte, Kennedy (Carr, 66), Kinsella (Finnan, 79), Holland, Kilbane, Connolly, Doherty.
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