On Monday last, the FAI announced that the Republic of Ireland senior men’s team will play 3 friendly matches in June. No names were mentioned but hopefully we will have qualified for the Euros and they will be Euro 2020 warm up matches for The Boys in Green. The matches will be played in interesting venues and will not be played in their usual home venue at Lansdowne Road. Two of the games will take place in Austria and one will take place in Limerick which is likely to be in Thomond Park. There are some questions to be asked and answered about these friendlies so lets take a deeper look into them.
Who might The Boys in Green face?
There are a lot of possible options of who they might face with the most popular being Turkey or Ukraine. The Republic of Ireland only played Turkey back in early 2018 in Antalya when they suffered a 1-0 defeat but you could never say never as we played Denmark 6 times in the space of 3 years and we have surprisingly never faced Ukraine since our first official match 96 years ago in 1924 so they might be an option but both Turkey and Ukraine could be very tough opponents but that might not be any harm because if we do qualify for the Euros we will be facing tough competition anyway so it would be good to face some tough teams before the competition.
The last time The Boys in Green played in Thomond Park, Limerick they played Australia who caused a very disappointing upset as they beat us three goals to nil in 2009 so hopefully whoever we face in Limerick that we give them a good game and come out on top and I think if we were to face either Turkey or Ukraine that the game would be in Limerick. I think that game could be in Limerick because I think we might face Austria and England possibly as they are playing each other in a friendly match on the 2nd of June. I’d say our final friendly would take place no later than the 8th of June because the European Championships start on the 12th of June; just 4 days later. I think our home game could be the last friendly before the Euros for us as if we play against either Austria or England, I feel it would be closer to the 2nd of June. So they are some potential options and I’d like to be as imaginative as possible and maybe think of big teams such as Brazil, Argentina or Colombia, you never know!
Will Stephen Kenny be in charge and will these games be a chance for some of our under 21 or underage players?
When Mick McCarthy was appointed manager of The Republic of Ireland for his 2nd term in charge there was an agreement put in place that Stephen Kenny who was named the manager of the under 21s at the same time as Mick would become the manager after Euro 2020 if Mick and the team qualified but worse case scenario that The Boys in Green don’t qualify will Mick leave after the playoffs? And will Stephen Kenny be in charge for the friendlies in June? Or will he take over after the Euros anyway even if we do or don’t qualify? Hopefully The Boys in Green can qualify for Euro 2020 and give Mick a go at the Euros for the first time as manager and then have Stephen come in after the Euros and Mick leaving with something to be happy about.
The friendlies in June could possibly be a chance for some younger players to get some senior game time as the usual players could be rested for the Euros or maybe the final squad for the Euros could be playing those matches. If they are allowed to pick different squads for the friendlies and Euros, we might see the likes of under 21 captain Jayson Molumby, West Bromwich Albion defender who scored his first goal for them last week, Dara O’Shea or even the likes of Jason Knight, Connor Coventry, Caoimhin Kelleher or strikers, Adam Idah, Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrot who might be even battling for a place in the final squad for the Euros. Parrott is struggling for game time at Spurs at the moment however. Finally, Aaron Connolly who may be in the squad anyway and playing in the Euros; he just needs to recover and get away from those injuries and find form for Brighton and Hove Albion again.
There is a lot to look forward to for Republic of Ireland fans but firstly we have to focus on those all important Euro 2020 playoff away matches against Slovakia and hopefully, either Northern Ireland or Bosnia and Herzegovina in March. Then we can start looking forward to those friendly matches and then hopefully the Euros!