Republic of Ireland U21 1 Montenegro U21 1
Republic of Ireland Under-21s had to settle for a share of the spoils with their Montenegrin counterparts at a rainswept Terryland Park in Galway tonight.
With Liam Brady an interested spectator in the stand, Don Givens’ men had to come from behind to force a draw as Andy Keogh cancelled out Mijusko Bojovic’s second-half header.
The newest member of Giovanni Trapattoni’s backroom staff had had enough as he departed the scene with 10 minutes remaining in the game, but he will have had some positive news to bring to the Italian even if the result was not the one they wanted.
Darron Gibson stood out in the centre of the park and Keogh’s contribution was adequate on the night. At the back captain for the night Darren O’Dea was a solid influence.
Ireland had four full internationals in their starting XI and it was two of them – Gibson and Keogh – who combined for the first chance of the night after 12 minutes.
Having received the ball from his Wolves team-mate, Keogh did brilliantly to spin off his opponent and make space for himself before unleashing that 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 second half in terms of possession it was the visitors who took the lead when Marko Cetkovic, the nephew of Real Madrid great Predrag Mijatovic, supplied a corner that Bojovic duly headed home unopposed after 67 minutes.
But Givens’ men were level within five minutes of that when Conor Powell not only managed to cross virtually from the corner flag, but also managed to find Keogh, who headed home from six yards.