Further misery for Ireland as Maloney shows goal touch

CELTIC star Shaun Maloney and Simon Lynch piled the agony on the Republic of Ireland at Rugby Park last night – just hours after the news of Roy Keane’s international retirement.

Maloney enhanced his growing reputation as a free-kick specialist with a sublime effort to give Scotland the half-time lead and substitute Lynch doubled Scotland’s lead in the 67th after his first shot was saved by keeper Graham Stack.

The visitors were first to cause any real problems as Arsenal’s on-loan striker Graham Barrett got away from Celtic defender John Kennedy, but he was just unable to pick out Thomas Butler in the centre with Chris Doig making the telling block.

Ireland again had the Scots on the rack in the seventh minute when Wes Hoolahan’s corner broke to John Thompson, but his low shot was saved by Derek Soutar.

But the home side were let off the hook in the 29th minute when a mistake by Brian Kerr was jumped upon by Andy Reid, but he screwed his effort wide.

The Scots were fortunate in the 31st minute not to concede a penalty when Stephen Hammell clearly brought down Butler in the area after Barrett’s through ball.

Rainer Bonhof’s side responded by going close themselves moments later when Kyle rose to head Williams’

corner on target, but Reid made a vital block inside his six-yard box.

Clifford Byrne was the first to be shown a yellow card in the 40th minute for a reckless tackle on Canero over 25 yards out, but it was well within Maloney’s range.

The youngster had done very little in the first half, but he stepped up to curl a Beckham-like right-foot shot over a rooted Stack and into the top left corner of the net.

That contribution would have cheered Martin O’Neill’s watching assistant John Robertson in the stand, but Bonhof replaced five of his players at the interval including Maloney and with highly-rated Motherwell striker James McFadden coming on in his place.

Ireland made three changes and that seemed to take the spark out of the game during the start to the second half. Simon Lynch came on for Kyle in the 67th minute and just moments later he doubled Scotland’s lead after his first shot was saved by Stack.

A shuddering challenge from Butler saw Crainey requiring treatment and earned the Irishman a yellow card, but Robertson was again happy to see the young Celtic star recover.

SCOTLAND U21: Soutar (Crainey 46), Caldwell, Hammell, Kennedy, Boyd (Hughes 46), Kerr, Canero (Lynch 65), Pearson (McGregor 46), Kyle, Williams (Duff 46), Maloney (McFadden 46).

REP OF IRELAND U21: Stack, Brennan, Tierney, Byrne, Goodwin, Thompson, Butler, Reid (Thornton 46), Barrett (Daly 46), Dempsey, Hoolahan (Melligan 46).

Republic of Ireland 1 -Slovakia 1

IRELAND put in maximum effort and in the end were somewhat unlucky not to win this U19 friendly at Buckley Park last night.

The home side took the lead in the eighth minute when Michael Timlin finished a right wing cross from Stephen Bradley to the net.

On 38 minutes Slovakia drew level following a bad error in the home defence.

A through ball from Peter Kruty was chested down by Stephen Rice. As the defender and goalkeeper got their calls mixed up.

Filip Holosko nipped in and bundled the ball into the net.

Afterwards Ireland created a host of opportunities but John Fitzgerald, Patrick Mulvihill, Fitzgerald again and Glenn Whelan all went close but they could not get the vital last touch.

In the 93rd minute the home side had a narrow escape when a drive by Juraja Chlebo stung the fingertips of home goalkeeper, Tim Ditmer.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Ditmer, Rice, Bell, Clancy, Fitzgerald, Whelan, Deery, Bradley, Mulvihill, Yeats, Timlin, Subs: O’Brien for Rice (60 mins), Doyle for Bradley (75 mins).

SLOVAKIA: Kiss, Paluba, Basista, Stano, Skrtel, Oeovan, Dkrabak, Kruty, Bozok, Holosko, Filo. Res: Chlebo for Oeovan (50 mins), Hrmo for Bosok (70 mins), Hricov for Filo (77 mins), Adamik for Dkrabak (81 mins).

Referee: J. O’Neill (Waterford).

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