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1 / 232FAI Emerging Talent Programme helping to shape the next generationFAI JUNIOR CUP FINAL | Pike Rovers Captain Nathan O'Callaghan relaxed ahead of finalFAI JUNIOR CUP FINAL | Squad harmony an advantage for Villa FC Captain Craig DunphyFAI JUNIOR CUP FINAL | Pike Rovers Manager Robbie Williams ready for biggest match of the seasonFAI JUNIOR CUP FINAL | Villa FC Manager Conor Coad looking forward to showpiece event2022 SPAR FAI Primary School 5s National FinalsFirst Division GW16: Treaty United 0-0 Longford TownWNL Wrap | GW10 DiscussionPremier Division GW15: Shelbourne 1-0 Drogheda UnitedPremier Division GW15: Finn Harps 0-1 UCDPremier Division GW15: Dundalk 3-1 BohemiansPremier Division GW15: Sligo Rovers 1-1 St Patrick's AthleticPremier Division GW15: Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Derry CityFirst Division GW16: Athlone Town 1-2 Longford TownFirst Division GW16: Wexford 0-4 Galway United1 / 232STARTING XI
Mark Travers – 4
It was a tough competitive international debut for Travers. The Bournemouth ‘keeper was thrown into the deep end on the night and he never really looked comfortable or assured.
He was particularly at fault for Serbia’s second goal. His positioning allowed Aleksandar Mitrović to produce a stunning chip over his head and give Serbia the lead.
Otherwise, he opted to knock the ball long when at his feet instead of using the shorter option.
Travers will have better games in an Ireland shirt but tonight wasn’t his night.
Matt Doherty – 6
Playing at right wing-back as he has done in the past for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Doherty produced a reasonably good performance.
His off the ball movement caused problems for Serbia at times but his end product was lacking.
He was also defensively solid when called upon.
Enda Stevens – 5
There was plenty of space down the left flank for Stevens to operate in and at times he presented danger to the Serbian defence, but probably not enough for the amount he had the ball in the final third.
He wasn’t particularly effective defensively, either.
Not a great night for the Sheffield United man.
Séamus Coleman – 7
The return of Coleman to the Ireland fold after missing a number of squads was a much-needed boost to Stephen Kenny and his coaching staff.
Despite a typically solid performance, though, he was unable to inspire his country to a positive result.
Coleman made a handful of important defensive interventions to disrupt Serbian attacks as well as looking composed on the ball, all while playing in the unnatural position of centre-back.
Dara O’Shea – 7
Perhaps Ireland’s best defensive performance on the night, O’Shea proved he’s more than capable of stepping up to the plate at international level.
He was particularly impressive in the early stages of the game, regularly stalling Serbian attacking moves.
He also made a number of line breaking passes which allowed Ireland’s more offensive minded players to get forward.
Ciaran Clark – 6
In his first international game in two years, Ciaran Clark looked relatively comfortable on the left side of the back three.
He played one particularly good ball down the left-hand channel which could have resulted in an Ireland opportunity.
Overall, it was a fairly good return to the international fold for Clark.
Jayson Molumby – 5
A lack of game time this season meant Molumby’s inclusion in the starting XI was a surprise to many, particularly given how well Jason Knight has played for Derby.
His rustiness was evident as he gave away a number of fouls, particularly in the first half.
As usual, he tried his utmost to influence the game but his effort wasn’t rewarded.
Josh Cullen – 7
In what was his first competitive start for Ireland, Cullen looked as composed as anyone else on the pitch.
He’s been terrific for RSC Anderlecht this season and his performance tonight displayed some of the qualities that have made him such a fan favourite at the Belgian club.
His passing, while not always the most progressive, provided a foundation for the more creative players in the squad to advance the play.
He was also relentless in his pressing and work rate throughout.
Alan Browne – 8
He showed glimpses of his potential against Slovakia in that crucial European Championship play-off last year, but Alan Browne really made his presence known tonight.
He was voted man of the match after an impressive performance which seen him score the opening goal and display a good passing range.
The Preston North End captain showed why he’s so highly valued by the Championship club tonight.
Hopefully there’s much more to come from the Corkman.
Callum Robinson – 8
In truth, either of Alan Browne or Callum Robinson could have been awarded man of the match.
The former Preston team mates linked up well for the opening goal as Robinson provided the assist onto Browne’s head.
He also looked very comfortable on the ball and played a number of good passes/crosses throughout the match.
Aaron Connolly – 5
Apart from one controversial decision from the referee not to award a penalty for a tackle on Connolly, the Brighton forward failed to get into the game otherwise.
Despite being part of a front two, Connolly appeared isolated for much of the match.
He was eventually subbed off after getting injured in the 67th minute.
Jeff Hendrick – 5
The first substitution of the night was Jeff Hendrick, but you wouldn’t have known he was on the pitch based on his involvement – or lack of – after coming on.
Shane Long – 6
Coming on for Aaron Connolly in the 67th minute, Long made the most of his time on the pitch as his persistence helped Ireland to a second goal with just minutes remaining in the match.
He capitalized on a defensive mistake after some good pressing before laying the ball off to James Collins who scored his first competitive goal for the country.
James Collins – 7
A bad night for Ireland but a good one – personally at least – for James Collins.
The Luton Town striker came on with about 10 minutes remaining and it didn’t take him too long to make his mark.
He displayed good composure in front of goal to pull one back for Ireland with just minutes remaining.
His cameo tonight could well influence Stephen Kenny to start him on Saturday.
James McClean – 6
Often the scapegoat for when things go bad for Ireland, McClean played well after coming off the bench.
His urgency was much needed going into the dying embers of the game and he got down the line well, playing in several crosses in his short time on the pitch.
He also completed the majority of his passes.
Robbie Brady – 6
His decrease in minutes recently for Burnley possibly influenced Stephen Kenny not to start Brady tonight, but he played fairly well when he was called into action.
He was instrumental in Ireland’s second goal, playing a decent ball down the line which ended up in the back of the net thanks to Long’s persistence and Collins’ composure.
FT | Serbia 3-2 Ireland.
A tough one to take in Belgrade.
The hosts came from behind to lead after Browne hit the front for Ireland. Collins pulled a goal back late on, but despite some late pressure, Stephen Kenny’s side couldn’t find a leveller.#WEAREONE | #COYBIG | #SRBIRL pic.twitter.com/atushGu1Gc
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) MARCH 24, 2021