Hello, and welcome to Sports Mole
's live coverage of the World Cup
qualifier between Republic of Ireland
The domestic campaign may have ended some weeks ago but the important fixtures keep on coming. We have already witnessed Scotland and England play out a 2-2 draw at Hampden Park and Northern Ireland claim a massive 1-0 win away in Azerbaijan, but now it is the turn of Republic of Ireland, who have the chance to strengthen their hold on a top-two place in this group.
's men head into the game having recorded 11 points from five matches without suffering defeat. With Serbia, Wales and Austria in your group, that is some effort. However, there is still plenty of work to do and if they can get another draw or win on the board this evening, they will put pressure on both Serbia and Wales ahead of the encounter in Belgrade later tonight. However, if Austria win, they will be just one point adrift of their hosts with four matches left. This really is a huge fixture for both nations.
Anyway, with just over 20 minutes left until kickoff, I guess you want some team news? Don't worry. It is coming right up...
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND XI: Randolph; Christie, Long, Duffy, Ward; Whelan, Hendrick, Arter, Brady; McClean, Walters
AUSTRIA XI: Lindner; Lainer, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Alaba; Kainz, Baumgartlinger, Prodl; Burgstaller, Lazaro, Junuzovic
What do you make of that, Ireland fans? In a starting lineup led by Jonathan Walters
, O'Neill makes a total of five changes, one of which sees Cyrus Christie get an opportunity at right-back with Seamus Coleman sidelined until 2018. Kevin Long and Shane Duffy get the nod in the centre of defence, with Richard Keogh and John O'Shea
having to make do with the bench. It is a solid-looking midfield, with Robbie Brady and James McClean
providing the width.
As for Austria, the name which sticks out is Bayern Munich's David Alaba
, while viewers of the Premier League will be familiar with Watford's Sebastian Prodl. Guido Burgstaller, who has gone on to do superbly for Nurnberg and Schalke 04 since a five-game spell with Cardiff City, starts in attack.
HEAD TO HEAD! Today's fixture represents the 16th time in which these two nations have met on the international stage, with Austria claiming nine wins in comparison to three victories for Republic of Ireland. However, it was Ireland who prevailed in their last contest in November when McClean scored the only goal of the game in Vienna.
PREDICTION! I can't see there being many goals in this match. Neither side possess that much outstanding talent in the final third and it may take a set piece to decide a winner. However, we are going to sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw.
The two teams have made their way out onto the pitch in Dublin. It's time for the national anthems.
Republic of Ireland get us underway.
Austria managed to win an early free kick around 40 yards from goal but the cross into the box was easily cleared by the home side.
SHOT! It has been a very fast start by the visitors. They find themselves in a four on four situation but Junuzovic's strike from just inside the penalty area was straight at Darren Randolph.
Austria have created the first corner of the match as well. They look bang up for this. Republic of Ireland are too but they are yet to make an impression.
Walters is doing a lot of chasing for the hosts in the final third, but Prodl is having the better of their battle so far. Not much else is going on, if truth be told.
Republic of Ireland win the softest of free kicks around 35 yards from goal as Dragovic is adjudged to have fouled Walters. Brady steps up to take it but it goes into the wall.
Ireland look a shadow of the side which got the better of Uruguay last week. Based on this performance, I'm not sure how they managed to score one, nevermind three. Much to ponder for O'Neill.
More of the same from both sides. Pass, pass, pass with little end product. Austria should have made more with a decent delivery from a corner but two players failed to make connection.
CHANCE! Much better from Ireland. Ward's cross finds McClean, who touches the ball into the path of Walters who is waiting around the edge of the area. However, his first-time shot is miscued wide.
Ireland finally look a force in this match. Walters should have done better with his previous chance and he did not react fast enough to another opening here, although he was ruled offside. Plenty of encouragement for the home supporters.
BOOKING! Brady goes into the book for a mis-timed challenge on the far touchline. The referee didn't require much thinking time for that.
GOAL! Republic of Ireland 0-1 Austria (Hinteregger)
Just as Ireland were getting on top, they go and concede the opening goal in this match. A low corner from the left was left for Hinteregger to fire the ball into the bottom corner from around 12 yards out. It's very well-made goal.
BOOKING! Christie quickly follows Brady into the book for a similar challenge to his teammate. Ireland need to calm things down. They are growing frustrated.
Ireland are doing their best to try to regain control of this match but I get the impression that Austria are going to be a very tough nut to crack. It is nothing more than huff and puff from the home team.
A bit more pressure starts to come from Ireland with a couple of balls entering the penalty area but Austria are able to deal with them. O'Neill will be looking forward to getting his team in for half time.
SHOT! Walters certainly isn't wearing his shooting boots today. The ball fell to him after Whelan had overrun the ball when attempting to dodge a tackle but the forward was only able to pull his effort well wide of the far post.
HALF TIME: Republic of Ireland 0-1 Austria
The half-time whistle in Dublin and Austria lead thanks to that Hinteregger strike. The visitors deserve to be a goal to the good with Ireland offering very little in the final third. O'Neill needs to make a change or two at the break.
Austria get us back underway.
CHANCE! It would take a lot for Duffy to score a header from this distance but he is able to meet a long ball from 14 yards out, only to direct it wide.
CHANCE! A minute later, Austria nearly double their lead with a move started and finished by Alaba. He made his way into the penalty area to meet a cross by Kainz, but he could only direct his shot wide from 12 yards.
Ireland have improved 10-fold at the start of this second half. They are yet to trouble Lindner in the Austria goal but they are throwing caution to the wind to try to get back on level terms. Austria remain a danger on the break, however. This is brewing up nicely...
CHANCE! Walters and McClean both do well to allow Arter to get a shot on goal but his left-foot volley is always heading wide.
SUBSTITUTION! The first change for Ireland sees Daryl Murphy come on for Ward. He will go up front with Brady dropping back to left-back.
The introduction of Murphy is only going to lead to a direct approach from Ireland. They are ready to launch an assault on this Austria goal now. It's a shame it didn't come in the first half as well.
If Ireland can keep this up, a goal is inevitable, but the question is whether they can continue to pound the Austria goal. The visitors remain dangerous on the break but they haven't created another chance since that Alaba opening.
SHOT! This is greedy from McClean but I suppose you can't blame him for shooting. He dragged his eventual effort wide from 20 yards, but he should have teed up Arter.
I'm surprised that we haven't seen more changes for Republic of Ireland. As well as they have performed this half, they still lack a cutting edge. Another offensive alteration needs to be made.
SUBSTITUTION! It's time for Wes Hoolahan, who replaces Arter in midfield.
CHANCE! How have Austria survived here>! Walters does well before setting up Hoolahan to whip an inswinging cross into the box. The delivery is diverted on goal by Lainer at the back post but he is relieved to see the ball go into the hands of his goalkeeper.
SUBSTITUTION! It's time for Burgstaller to make way for Martin Harnik. We didn't see much of the former Cardiff City man.
SUBSTITUTION! Aiden McGeady is Ireland's final change, with the winger coming on for Whelan.
SUBSTITUTION! Final alteration for Austria. Junuzovic is off for Florian Grillitsch.
CHANCE! Long is SO unlucky! He rises to meet an inswinging corner and divert it towards the corner of the goal. However, his effort is brilliantly cleared off the line.
GOAL! Republic of Ireland 1-1 Austria (Walters)
What a goal from Walters! Just a minute after Randolph pulled off a worldie of a save to deny Grillitsch, Walters has equalised for the home side after shrugging off the attentions of Dragovic before volleying into the bottom corner from 20 yards. It's an excellent finish!
Ireland have had a goal disallowed! It looks harsh, but I think there might have been a handball on the line. Drama!
There will be four minutes of added-on time. Ireland have no idea how they aren't in front. Austria don't really know how they are still level.
FULL TIME: Republic of Ireland 1-1 Austria
The full-time whistle goes in Dublin and Republic of Ireland are forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Austria. It's a result which they will take with few complaints but they will be left wondering what if over the goal which was disallowed. I'm sure O'Neill will have plenty to say about that. Ireland sit top of Group D ahead of Serbia's game with Wales, which you can follow here
That will be all from Sports Mole's coverage for this match. Thank you for joining us this evening and we hope to see you again soon. Goodbye for now.