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'We Talk About Hunger...But We Actually Matched Them, Football-Wise': Doyle

'We Talk About Hunger...But We Actually Matched Them, Football-Wise': Doyle
Luke Delaney
By Luke Delaney
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There was a special atmosphere around the Aviva Stadium all evening and the Ireland supporters certainly brought that into the ground prior to kick-off. It started with a spine tingling rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann and stretched right until the final whistle. In the end Ireland lost 1-0 but for many - though not all - it was a night to be optimistic about the present and future of Irish football.

Up against a French starting XI consisting of world class operators all around the pitch, Ireland found joy down the flanks during the first half with man of the match Chiedozie Ogbene causing Theo Hernandez problems on numerous occasions with his electric pace and physicality.

Considering France led The Netherlands 3-0 at half time during their qualifying opener last week, Stephen Kenny was more than happy to go into the break with the game scoreless if that had been offered to him prior to kick-off.

Sadly for Ireland, it didn't take the French long to open the scoring in the second period, with Benjamin Pavard adding another rocket of a strike to his already stacked portfolio of fine finishes, after the hosts lost possession cheaply on the edge of their 18-yard-box.


Ireland continued their heroic and hard working performance throughout the second period, but it was often that final pass which trickled inches away that stopped Ireland from equalising.

With legs tiring particularly around the Irish midfield heading towards the final quarter of the game, Gavin Bazunu found himself called into action on a couple of occasions. The Southampton shot stopper made two fine stops to deny the likes of Moussa Diaby and Adrien Rabiot and stop the French from running away with the game.


Stephen Kenny's substitutes made a big difference in the latter stages of the affair, especially the introductions of James McClean, Alan Browne and Mikey Johnston in the 76th minute. After the final whistle, Richie Sadlier praised the character shown by Stephen Kenny and his team late on to push for a late equaliser.


Sadlier said:

We know this team will play with heart. No one questions their commitment or their character or any of that stuff, but they played with intelligence and their heads for loads of that game. We showed at half time that there was spells in that game where they defended in numbers because that's what you have to do, just closed down space and didn't put anyone up front.

But then they sensed something here. You know when you can sense that the opposition is a little bit vulnerable and the changes were made by Stephen and the attitude of the players was very attack minded. They went with the momentum of the game and I thought that they were superb.

Kevin Doyle shared that same sentiment of positivity:g

It’s the first time in a long time…I mean you talk about hunger and desire, and the crowd gets behind us, and we get everyone behind the ball and we block shots and all but we actually matched them football-wise. We played really good football for long periods of that game, created some really good opportunities, and probably should have got something out of the game. 

The heroic Seamus Coleman spoke similarly in his post-match interview.


We've worked very hard on the training ground this week. And we fully believed we could get something against France tonight. Wasn't to be but we were knocking on the door. We weren't holding on for dear life or anything,  positives to take.

It was McClean who had arguably Ireland's first real chance of the game inside the final 10 minutes and it took this stop from Mike Maignan to deny Ireland a famous equaliser.

🇮🇪 0-1 🇫🇷
France keeper Maignan didn't have much to do until now but he denies sub McClean as Ireland push for an equaliser
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— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 27, 2023

France had Maignan to thank yet again with two world class saves to deny two bullet headers which looked destined to land in the back of the net from Nathan Collins in the dying moments.

With Ireland fans around the country undoubtedly feeling disappointed with the result and failing to come out of the clash without a point at least, there's a number of positives to take into the next set of qualifiers against Gibralter and Greece.

SEE ALSO: Mick McCarthy Close To Signing Leinster Senior League Teenager

Mick McCarthy Close To Signing Leinster Senior League Teenager


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