Intercontinental Cup Group B
Nigeria 3-1 Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland were defeated in their second game of the Under-23 Intercontinental Cup tournament on Saturday against a powerful Nigeria team.
Nigeria raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half and added a third shortly after the break. Ipswich Town striker Billy Clarke netted a consolation goal in stoppage time for Don Givens’ side.
The Irish starting team showed seven changes to the side which defeated tournament hosts Malaysia on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Paul Skinner started between the sticks to earn his first cap and also promoted from the bench were Simon Madden, James Ryan, Stephen Maher, Mark Salmon, Karl Moore and Alan Judge.
Nigeria earned their moniker, ‘The Dream Team’, thanks to their efforts in successive Olympic games since 1996.
This was the first game of the tournament for the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup runners-up and they showed just why they are the favourites to lift the Intercontinental trophy.
They hit the front after only 12 minutes when Skinner was helpless to prevent Jerimiah from opening the scoring.
Nigeria netted their second after 28 minutes following a good move which was ended with an excellent finish by Okorowanta.
Ireland got to grips with the attacking threat of the Nigerians before the interval and were a different side in the second half.
With James Ryan and Mark Salmon pulling the strings in midfield, they began to exert pressure and the openings were created.
However, Nigeria always posed a threat and Skinner was beaten again on 54 minutes when Moses converted to make it 3-0.
Ireland looked likely to score on the hour mark when Alan Judge broke free on goal but he was fouled by Okonkwo just as he was poised to slot home. Okonkwo received his marching orders for the professional foul and Nigeria played the final half hour with ten men.
The efforts of Ireland were finally rewarded in the 92nd minute when substitutes Keith Treacy and Stephen Ward combined well inside the box and Ward’s cut-back was tapped in by Billy Clarke from close-range.
The Irish meet Iraq in their final group match on (1.45pm Irish time). The winner of the four-nation group progresses to the final to face the team who tops Group A.
Republic of Ireland Team:
Paul Skinner – Celtic
Simon Madden – Leeds United
Darren Dennehy - Everton
Shane Lowry - Aston Villa
David Elebert – Hamilton Academicals
James Ryan – Shrewsbury Town
Stephen Maher - Yeovil Town
Mark Salmon – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Karl Moore - Manchester City
Alan Judge - Blackburn Rovers
Billy Clarke - Ipswich Town
Michael Collins – Huddersfield Town for Maher (58 mins)
Stephen Ward - Wolverhampton Wanderers for Moore (72 mins)
Keith Treacy - Blackburn Rovers for Salmon (85 mins)
Substitutes not used:
Shane Redmond - Nottingham Forest
Michael Spillane - Norwich City
Eddie Nolan - Blackburn Rovers
James Berrett – Huddersfield Town
Irelands Results and Fixtures (Group A):
Thursday, May 15
Republic of Ireland 3-1 Malaysia
Malaysia, 9pm local time (2pm Irish time)
Saturday, May 17
Republic of Ireland 1-3 Nigeria
Malaysia, 6.30pm local time (11.30am Irish time)
Tuesday, May 19
Republic of Ireland v Iraq
Malaysia, 8.45pm local time (1.45pm Irish time).