Evening all! It would be fair to state that club managers all around the world will be holding their breath this week, as a number of players turn out for their country. Both Ireland and Poland
currently sit in third position in their respective World Cup qualification groups, but this evening will be seen as a chance for both managers to assess different options.
As mentioned, Trapattoni took the decision to name his team on Tuesday. Derby’s Conor Sammon has been given a start this evening, along with Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark
. Sammon will make his debut in attack alongside Shane Long, while Bristol City defender Greg Cunningham has also been handed a start. Let’s take a look at the team in full.
Forde, McShane, O'Shea, Clark, Cunningham; Brady, McCarthy, Whelan, McClean; Long, Sammon
POLAND TEAM: Boruc; Boenisch, Glik, Perquis, Wawrzyniak; Krychowiak, Lukasik; Blaszczykowski, Obraniak, Pawlowski; Lewandowski.
Hull City youngster Robbie Brady will also start on the right side of midfield, with Sunderland’s James McClean operating on the opposite flank. Ireland are without a number of senior players, however, with Robbie Keane allowed to continue pre-season training with Los Angeles Galaxy and Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne absent with a long-term injury.
Poland’s squad, however, is full of their star names. Premier League supporters will hope to see Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny in action this evening, but Southampton's Artur Boruc starts in goal. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski are also in the squad, but only the latter two start this evening. There are certainly players capable of harming Ireland this evening.
As mentioned, this evening is the 23rd meeting between the two sides. Three of the last four games have ended in a draw, with Poland winning the other 3-2 in Dublin in 2008. In fact, Ireland have not beaten Poland since a 3-1 win in 1988. But it would be fair to say that much has changed with both countries since then.
Let’s take a look at how each has fared in their World Cup qualification campaign thus far. Ireland currently occupy third position in Group C having taken six points from three matches. They sit one point behind second-placed Sweden and four points behind Germany, who have played one game more.
Ireland opened their qualification campaign with a 2-1 win in Kazakhstan, before being thumped 6-1 by Germany in Dublin. They did return to winning ways, however, in October when they overcame the Faroe Islands 4-1. Next up for Trapattoni’s men is a clash against Sweden in March, which could move Ireland into second place.
Poland, meanwhile, currently sit third in Group H. They are three points behind second-placed England and five behind leaders Montenegro, but they do have a game in hand on both of those countries. They opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Montenegro, before beating Moldova in Wroclaw last September.
Their last qualification match was against England, where they picked up a 1-1 draw. Poland boss Waldemar Fornalik will certainly be looking to secure qualification with the players at his disposal. They were in action against Romania on Saturday, meanwhile, where they picked up a 4-1 win, their third victory in their last five matches.
Ireland will have to improve on their home form if they are to secure a result this evening. They have lost three of their last four games in Dublin, conceding 10 goals in the process. Poland have won their last two games by four goals, meanwhile, in addition to scoring two goals in three of their last four away games. The omens do not look too clever for Ireland.
It would be fair to admit that the result is not all-important this evening, however, with Fornalik insisting that he will “check out some options”. He told reporters: “Results are always important. In Dublin, we want to play a good game, but also check out some options and realise certain assumptions. We are chasing a positive result." That has been shown in his team selection this evening.
Wigan Athletic midfielder James McCarthy has taken a different view, however, insisting that Ireland must recover from their heavy defeat last time at home against Germany with a positive result this evening. He told reporters: “It's a good test for us and then next month, we have got the two qualifiers, and we need to go into those games and try to be as positive as we can. It's not going to be easy. Sweden and Austria are two massive games and two tough games. They could make or break the group, to be honest."
Trapattoni has divided opinion in recent months with the Italian receiving much criticism for his tactics in Euro 2012. Ireland were dumped out in the group stage following defeats to Spain, Croatia and Italy, with the veteran boss coming under pressure with his decision to mimic Spain’s creative approach and start with a false number nine.
His team this evening, which includes two out-and-out strikers, suggests that he is willing to try a different approach. But Ireland do have players who can operate around the forward men, with Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan
enjoying an impressive season. His teammate Anthony Pilkington, who has also featured regularly in the Premier League, is injured, but is another capable of filling that role.
Right, we are just about 15 minutes from kickoff on this mild evening in Dublin. Just about time for my pre-match prediction. Ireland have named an experimental team this evening and I can see Poland just being too strong on the night. I am backing a narrow away win. I do not think there will be too many goals.
What about the decision to start Sammon in attack this evening? Sunderland defender John O'Shea had some kind words for the debutant in the build-up to the match. He told BBC Sport: "I have played against Conor once or twice, and he's going to offer us a good physical presence up front and a threat in behind as well. He's a big man who is quite agile and can get about pitch quite well."
Of course, this is not the only international match taking place this evening. The home nations Wales, Northern Ireland and England are also in action, with the Three Lions in the early stages of their glamour tie against Brazil. There is a grand total of 30 international friendlies to be played.
Just about five minutes until kickoff this evening. Let me bring you a final reminder of the main team news. Ireland pair Sammon and Long in attack, while Brady and McClean start on each wing. Poland are not at full strength this evening, but have one of the world's best forwards, Lewandowski, leading their line.
Here we go then. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Time for the national anthems. It is always interesting to see who really goes for it, and who remains calm and attempts to utter a few words without making it too obvious. I think I would let it all out if I were playing for my country.
Tonight's referee is 31-year-old Belgian Sebastien Delferiere. Let's hope that the match is allowed to flow this evening. But is there such a match as a friendly? One thing is for certain, club managers around the globe will be hoping for a nice, calm evening with few heavy challenges. Ireland get us underway.
It must be said that there is a sensational atmosphere inside the stadium this evening. If Ireland score first then the roof will be raised right off this stadium. Decent start for the away side as Boenisch gets down the left before driving a low cross into the box, but Forde is out to collect the danger.
Slightly unsavoury scenes in the crowd with a flare present in the Poland end. Not too sure how the supporters were managed to smuggle that into the stadium, but it is always disappointing to see. Much of the early football continues to be played by the away side with Obraniak dropping into the hole just behind Lewandowski. Meanwhile, Lukasik and Pawlowski have also seen plenty of the ball thus far.
Poland continue to enjoy much of the early possession with their midfield players prepared to join the attack at each opportunity. It's good work from Blaszczykowski as the Dortmund midfielder fires a high cross into the box, but Forde just manages to clear with Lukasik in close proximity. Not too much for the Ireland strikers to feed off thus far.
Another half-chance arrives for the home side as Obraniak picks up possession before slipping a low pass behind the Ireland defence, but Lewandowski had just strayed into an offside position, much to the frustration of the forward. Ireland attempt to break down the other end with McClean, but the winger is challenged by Glik.
The tempo has just dropped in the last couple of moments with neither side taking too much care in possession, but the home supporters continue to make their voices known. It's good work from Brady down the left as the Hull City winger attempts to find Long behind the Poland defence, but Boruc is across to clear at the vital moment. No chances for either side thus far.
Poland continue to press Ireland high in their half as Boenisch drives down the right before drilling a low cross into the box, but Whelan comes back to make the clearance. The Stoke City midfielder looks for McClean with a long pass, but it just runs off the turf. It's now the Poland supporters winning the singing contest in the crowd.
Another half-chance comes to the away side as Lewandowski wins a corner from McShane. The resulting set piece is met by the head of Glik, but the defender can only head over the crossbar. McClean fires a low cross into the box down the other end moments later, but the delivery is poor and it moves out of play for a throw.
I would love to be able to report that we have had a host of clear chances in the last few minutes, but that has simply not been the case. That has done nothing to dampen the spirits of the supports, however. It's better from Ireland as Brady combines with Clark before driving into the box, but Perquis is across to clear at the vital moment.
Just about 65% possession for Poland in the opening 18 minutes of this match as the away side continue to control proceedings. It has been slightly better from Ireland in the last few moments with McClean and Brdy enjoying possession in the wide areas, but Poland look the side more capable of causing problems in the final third, as Lewandowski is chopped down by O'Shea.
Ireland continue to look long with McShane and Cunningham both attempting to find the head of Sammon at each opportunity, but the Derby striker has been unable to compete with the two Polish central defenders thus far. Meanwhile, the away side's high-line is leaving simply no place for Long to attack. We await the first real chance with 20 minutes on the clock.
An opportunity does eventually come for Poland as Forde presents the ball straight to Obraniak outside the box, the midfielder strikes a powerful effort towards the top corner, but Forde gets across to make amends. The resulting corner threatens to cause problems, but the referee awards a free kick for a foul on O'Shea.
Better possession from the home side in the past few minutes with both full-backs looking inside rather than long towards Sammon. However, Ireland have not created any sort of attacking chance thus far, with Poland just about as comfortable as they could ever imagine to be. I hate to say it, but this match has the look of a 0-0 draw.
First half-chance comes to Ireland as Sammon wins a flick-on in the area, it breaks to Brady on the edge of the box, but the midfielder can only fire wide of the target. However, that is much better from the home side. It is the type of match that really needs a goal in order to liven proceedings on this mild evening in Dublin.
One positive for Ireland will be the ease in which their central defenders have dealt with the Poland attack. In truth, O'Shea and Clark have really been troubles aside from a few long balls into the area. Brady again looks the most likely for Ireland as he embarks on a darting run, but he moves into a blind alley and the danger is cleared once more.
First real sign of Lewandowski as the Dortmund striker picks up possession before evading two challenges in the box, but it just would not fall for the Pole, with O'Shea across to clear. The resulting corner is taken by Pawlowski, but Clark rises highest to clear under pressure from Lukasik.
CHANCE! Clearest opening of the match by some distance as Obraniak finds the run of Lewandowski, but Forde is quickly out to smother the Dortmund striker at the vital moment. That will do his confidence no harm at all. That is, without question, as close as either side have come in the opening 32 minutes.
Suddenly the match has risen to life as the challenges begin to fly in around the park. I'm not one to advocate a dangerous tackle, but a bit of aggression never hurt anyone. Luckily, the referee has let the match flow thus far. Lewandowski again threatens down the other end, but his pass just would not fall for Blaszczykowski.
First sign of frustration from the home crowd as a lack of communication between Long and Sammon allows Poland to clear the danger. This match has suddenly burst into life, but still the score remains level. Meanwhile, both sets of supporters continue to make their voices known in the Aviva Stadium.
Again it's good work from McClean as the Sunderland winger evades two challenges before finding Long with a fine pass, but Glik is across to clear at the vital moment, with the defender seemingly picking up an injury in the clash. McClean threatens once more as he claims a corner, but the danger is cleared.
GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Poland (Clark)
Ireland lead! It is against the run of play, but the home supporters will not mind. Long comes close with the first effort from a corner, but it breaks to Clark just inside the area, who finishes into the bottom corner. What a wonderful effort from the defender.
CHANCE! Poland come close to levelling moments later as Obraniak finds Lewandowski in the penalty area, the Dortmund striker meets the ball on the half-volley, but Forde gets down well to make a fine save. Some 38 minutes from the Milwall stopper.
Suddenly the entire tempo of the match has changed with both sides prepared to attack with pace and numbers. In truth, Ireland are fortunate to be ahead at this stage of proceedings, but they have taken their only real chance of the match. As you would expect, the home supporters are in fine voice as we approach the interval.
Again it's good work from Poland as Obraniak combines with Pawlowski before finding Lukasik, but Whelan is across to make a fine challenge. However, it appears that Long is still suffering from the challenge by Glik. I am sure that West Brom boss Steve Clark will be grimacing at the sight.
Poland continue to look for the response as they attack with pace and numbers, but the Ireland defence has dealt with the threat provided thus far. Obraniak is again the threat for Poland as he drives down the right, but Cunningham comes across to clear, before McClean is felled by Glik, who picks up a yellow for his troubles. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minutes of stoppage time.
HALF-TIME: Ireland 1-0 Poland
So there we have it. It has not gone well for Ciaran Clark on a club basis this season, but he has enjoyed his evening thus far, scoring the only goal of the half to secure a half-time lead for Ireland. However, in truth, Poland have been much the better in terms of possession.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. Poland have dominated the possession with 59%, while they have had five attempts to Ireland's three. Poland's best two chances have both fallen to Lewandowski, but the Dortmund striker has thus far been unable to find the back of the net.
Let me bring you up-to-date with the best of the rest in terms of other friendlies currently taking place. England currently lead Brazil courtesy of a Wayne Rooney strike, while Scotland lead Estonia 1-0. Northern Ireland were also in action earlier this evening, but they could only pick up a 0-0 draw in Malta.
Both managers are expected to make changes in the second period, let's take a look at who could enter the field. Ireland have a host of striking options on the bench with Kevin Doyle, Jonathan Walters and Simon Cox. Poland also have a host of forward names in the shape of Pawel Wszolek and Artur Sobiech. Right, the second period is just moments away.
Former Ireland midfielder Kevin Kilbane has just told Sky Sports News that he wants to see the team start better in the second period. Well, we will soon see. Changes for both teams at the break with Szczesny, Grosicki, and Wasilewski replacing Boenisch, Boruc and Pawlowski for Poland and Green entering the field in place of Whelan for Ireland.
Strong start to the second period from the home side with Long and Sammon combining before the latter finds Green, but the midfielder can only strike high of the crossbar. Sammon wins a free kick for Ireland moments later, but Glik is on hand to head clear under pressure from Clark.
End-to-end football at the moment as Poland attack down the other end with Lewandowski, but the Dortmund striker just cannot collect under pressure from O'Shea and the clearance is made. I expect that we will see a host of changes made as the half develops. That certainly suits the team that are winning. Another goal at this stage would be massive.
CHANCE! Ireland have a fine chance to move into a 2-0 lead as McCarthy strikes a powerful effort from the edge of the area, but Szczesny is on hand to tip the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner also causes problems, but Clark is penalised for a foul on Perquis.
Strong pressure from the away side in the last couple of moments as they force two corners in quick succession, but the danger is cleared by O'Shea on each occasion. A half-chance comes down the other end for McClean as he attempts to round the Polish goalkeeper, but Szczesny is on hand to clear. Much better tempo than the early stages of the first period.
Again Ireland threaten as Long combines with Sammon in the final third, but Glik is across to clear the danger. I suspect that the changes will begin to flow around the hour mark, as both managers assess different options ahead of World Cup qualification matches next month. Again Ireland come close with a dangerous cross from McClean, but Perquis slices clear for a corner.
Half-chance for Ireland as McCarthy fells Lewandowski outside the penalty area. The resulting free kick is taken by Obraniak, but Green is on hand to head clear. The pressure continues as Perquis fires a cross into the box, but this time Sammon provides an aerial threat in his own box. Ireland just need to settle in at the moment under increasing pressure from the Poles.
Slight sense of frustration from the away side as they begin to make a couple of dangerous challenges, with Obraniak having his name taken by the Belgian referee. Meanwhile, Poland make their fourth change of the match as Milik replaces Obraniak. The first of many changes in the final 30 minutes of this match.
Neither side is really in control of the possession at the moment with a host of fouls being awarded in the opposing half. McCarthy is the first Irish player to have his name taken for a foul on Glik, while Lewandowski is ruled offside moments later. No real tempo to the match as we surpass the hour mark. Will we have more goals in the latter stages?
CHANCE! Glorious chance for Sammon to score on his debut as Perquis slices to the striker in the Poland box, but the Derby forward just cannot find the back of the net from close range. What an opportunity. Meanwhile, Ireland make their second change as Long is replaced by Hoolahan.
Half-chance down the other end for Milik as the 18-year-old picks up possession in the Ireland box, but he falls over his own feet in quite spectacular fashion. The pressure continues as Grosicki combines with Lewandowski, but the midfielder just cannot find the bottom corner.
FLARE ON THE PITCH! Unsavoury scenes here as a flare is thrown onto the pitch, just yards away from Ireland keeper Forde. It was a strange situation with the referee taking one glance before playing on. Dortmund's Blaszczykowski shows no fear as he walks over before dispatching it behind the goal. The aftermath is dealt with by stewards on guard.
The stadium announcer has just said that "no fireworks should be thrown onto the pitch". I would have thought that was fairly self explanatory, but that does not seem to be the case. Poland continue to enjoy the better of it on the field, meanwhile, as they commit numbers to each attack. Ireland still lead with 20 minutes remaining.
A bright break from Poland comes close to bringing their opener as Grosicki finds Lewandowski on the edge of the area, the Dortmund striker attempts to find Lukasik with a high cross into the box, but Forde comes out to clear the danger. The Millwall goalkeeper has been very impressive this evening. Still the home supporters raise their voices as we approach the final period of this match.
Ireland make a double change as Walters and Hendrick replace Brady and McCarthy. Incidentally, tonight is the first appearance for Hendrick in an Ireland shirt. Walters is sporting a serious shiner this evening following a clash with Arsenal's Nacho Monreal at the weekend. Not too much to report with little over 15 minutes of football remaining. The chopping and changing of players has almost killed the tempo.
Poland continue to play the better football as we enter the final 15 minutes of this match, with Lewandowski the main threat. Again the Dortmund striker is involved as Grosicki finds him in the penalty area, but O'Shea is quickly on hand to clear.
GOAL! Ireland 2-0 Poland (Hoolahan)
Ireland have their second of the evening as Hendrick finds Hoolahan in the Poland box, the Norwich midfielder takes one touch before lifting the ball into the back of the net. Stunning finish from the playmaker. What a result for Ireland as it stands.
Meanwhile, Poland make their fifth change as Mierzejewski replaces Lukasik. What will the result do for the confidence of both sides ahead of upcoming World Cup qualification fixtures? Ireland have struggled to create for large spells, but they lead 2-0 with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Poland continue to dominate possession as they attempt to claw their way back into this match, but aside from Lewandowski, they do not have an obvious target in the final third. A free kick from Grosicki causes problems in the box, but once more Forde comes out to clear with a powerful punch. He has been very composed this evening.
Meanwhile, Ireland make their fifth change as McClean is replaced by Simon Cox for the final seven minutes of this match. There have certainly been plenty of positives for the home side this evening, but it will be a debut to forget for Sammon, who has missed a couple of clear chances. Will we have late drama in Dublin?
FLARE WATCH! The Poland supporters continue to light their flares, with the latest individual having a wonderful time swinging it from side to side, but the firemen are quickly on the scene to put the fire out. Little over five minutes of normal time remaining and Ireland lead 2-0 courtesy of goals from Clark and Hoolahan.
Ireland make their sixth change of the evening as Clark is replaced by Richard Keogh, wealth of strikers on the pitch for Ireland in the final few moments. In truth, this second period has never really had the chance to gain any sort of tempo with both teams making a host of changes. But that is international friendly football for you.
Poland continue to dominate possession in the final stages as they pass and probe in the Ireland half, but the home side's defence has stood up well to the threat all evening. It has been a largely disappointing night for Lewandowski, whose club side will not be too pleased that he has played 90 minutes of football.
Not too much to report in the final stages of the match with neither side taking too much care in possession of the football. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of stoppage time, mainly due to the amount of changes that have been made.
Decent finish from Poland as Lewandowski and Milik both have attempts from close range, but neither can find the target. Two crosses into the Ireland box in quick succession also cause concern, but once more the danger is cleared. Meanwhile, the Polish fans continue to produce their flares in the stands.
FULL-TIME: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Poland
So there we have it. Clark and Hoolahan both score their first international goals as Republic of Ireland
pick up a 2-0 win over Poland. Thanks for joining Sports Mole
for the action. That's just about it from me. Good evening!