Keogh strike rescues lacklustre Ireland

Ireland Under-21 1 Montenegro Under-21 1

The newest member of Giovanni Trapattoni’s backroom headed for the road with 10 minutes remaining, at which stage he had probably seen enough of what was ultimately an average performance.

That’s been the story of this qualifying campaign and it’s a measure of how far the Irish youngsters have to come that they are all of 15 points behind the group pacesetters England, albeit with a game less played.

But Brady will undoubtedly focus on the positives when he reports back to the new Ireland manager and Andy Keogh’s equaliser in the second half will certainly be one of those.

That header came after Mijusko Bojovic had stunned the sizeable Terryland crowd by putting his country in front with another header five minutes before Keogh had grabbed his.

It was a strike that came against the run of play, but such has been the lie of the land in this group that there hasn’t been too much to cheer about.

Indeed Keogh’s goal was only the second goal scored in the campaign.

There were other things to be happy about apart from Keogh’s strike, however, but maybe disappointingly they all came from players that are already well known in the senior set-up.

Darron Gibson was certainly one of them and the midfielder was always willing to get on the ball and spray it around the pitch at will. Anthony Stokes, too, had more of the play in the second half at least.

Ireland had four full internationals in their starting 11 and two of them — Gibson and Keogh — combined for the first chance of the night on 12 minutes.

Having received the ball from his Wolves teammate, Keogh did brilliantly to spin off his opponent and make space for himself before unleashing a shot that just shaved the upright.

It was the visitors who came closet in the opening 45, however, when Slobodan Lakicevic’s volley was only parried on to the post by Ireland’s debutant goalkeeper, Shane Supple.

With the ball loose inside the six-yard box, all it needed was a Montenegrin boot to connect, but instead it was Gibson who scooped the ball away to safety from underneath his crossbar.

Even though the Irish had the better of the second half in terms of possession, it was the visitors that took the lead when Marko Cetkovic, the nephew of Real Madrid great Predrag Mijatovic, supplied a corner that Bojovic duly headed home unopposed on 67 minutes.

But Givens men were level within five minutes when Conor Powell not only managed to cross from virtually the corner flag, but also managed to find Keogh, who headed home from six yards.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Supple; Nolan, O’Cearuill, O’Dea, Powell; Stokes, O’Toole (Best, 63), Gibson, Quinn, Clarke (Scannell, 46); Keogh.

MONTENEGRO: Janusevic; Zverotic, Novakovic, Bojovic, Lakicevic; Boskovic (Kaluderovic, 77), Cetkovic, Markovic, Delic (Brnovic, 88); Stjepanovic (Spasojevic, 88), Vujovic.

Ref: Y Moseychuk (Ukraine).

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