Category: Archive

McAteer, Duff ignite Irish

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

DUBLIN — Getting better with every game, Ireland made child’s play of a good defensive side with a three-goal blitz against the Danes last Wednesday at Lansdowne Road.

Ian Harte (19th), Robbie Keane (54th) and Clinton Morrison (90th) thrilled the 42,000-strong crowd with some great goals, but it was 23-year-old midfielder Damien Duff who earned raves from coach Mick McCarthy.

“He will no longer be a surprise package at the World Cup — everyone will know about him now,” he said.

Ireland’s superiority was clearcut throughout, and not just on the fringes of the visiting team’s area, where Jason McAteer, Ireland’s central midfielder, and Duff did more or less as they pleased.

Despite a couple of incidents of carelessness by Harte and Kenny Cunningham that might have resulted in Demark goals, it was another exemplary all-around performance by the Republic. Outstanding were goalkeepers Dean Kiely and Nicky Colgan, both of whom produced quality saves as the regular keeper, Shay Given, rested.

With Duff in playful mood out on the left flank, Denmark found it hard to deal effectively with McAteer set pieces. Thomas Rytter, in particular, was being given the sort of roasting by Duff that should do wonders for the morale of their group opponents Uruguay and Senegal, not to mention the French.

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Duff’s efforts came close to setting up Clinton Morrison for his second international goal on a couple of occasions during the opening quarter of an hour, while a McAteer free from the other flank provided another opportunity that might have ended up in the back of the net.

The 22-year-old Morrison lacked a bit of good fortune, perhaps, for none of the passes aimed at him quite provided him with the chance to meet the ball without severely altering his stride. The upshot was that none of the attempts on goal produced enough power to seriously test Thomas Sorensen, even if the goalkeeper did look a little lucky to prevent one Morrison shot reaching Robbie Keane, who was lurking just beside the right hand post.

Still, when the situation required it Sorensen showed that he could produce a decent stop and the Sunderland goalkeeper did very well to keep the ball out when both Harte and Christian Poulsen helped it toward the goal from just five or six yards out after McAteer had floated it in from another set piece.

However, he was helpless for Harte’s opening goal, in the 19th minute. The Irish left back easily got ahead of his marker before wrongfooting the goalkeeper with a header into the top right corner after some superb footwork by Duff had tied Martin Laursen up in knots before delivering a cross.

Robbie Keane, for a second successive month, had ensured the win by doubling Ireland’s lead in the 54th minute. Staunton’s quickly taken short free-kick caught the Danes off guard before the Leeds striker sent the ball curling into the top right-hand corner of the net from 25 yards out. It was his 10th goal in 31 appearances.

With the game in the bag, McCarthy opted to give Colin Healy another chance to impress and a couple of minutes later Nicky Colgan was given his senior debut while Steven Reid was brought on for McAteer. None disappointed, with Colgan making enough contact with the ball at the feet of Ebbe Sand’s feet to force the striker into knocking the ball out of play after a terrible error by Cunningham had left his goalkeeper one-on-one with the leading European scorer in the recent World Cup qualifying campaign. Healy then marked his own arrival with a sudden burst of speed in midfield followed by a clever through ball that almost sent Morrison clear at the other end.

With the game moving into injury time the young Corkman again underlined his potential by playing a key role in the third before David Connolly played Morrison in beyond the last defender for a deserved strike that capped a great night for the Crystal Palace player.

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