New Irish midfield options emerge from friendly; Beware of wounded Wallabies

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Jack Byrne made his debut for Ireland last night. Photograph: Inpho

Jack Byrne made his debut for Ireland last night. Photograph: Inpho

The Republic of Ireland’s fringe players were 3-1 winners over Bulgaria in last night’s friendly international at the Aviva Stadium. Jack Byrne stole the show with his debut performance off the bench as Alan Browne, Kevin Long and James Collins all scored their first goals in green. Ken Early believes a new midfield pairing may have emerged in Josh Cullen and Alan Browne ahead of the Georgia match: “The Irish midfield looked sharper and better-balanced than the supposed first choice combination had last Thursday, and it will be up to McCarthy to decide how much of that is because the opposition were weak, and how much of it was because the new players played well.” It was the Under-21’s comeback win over Sweden however that has really excited Irish fans - Tottenham attacker Troy Parrott scored twice in a 3-1 victory as Stephen Kenny’s youngsters remain top of their European qualification group.

Darragh Ó Sé is still tipping Dublin to complete the five-in-a-row and beat Kerry in Saturday’s All-Ireland football final replay. “When Dublin are humming, Fenton is generally a big part of it” the former Kerry midfielder explains. “Whether it’s Moran or Barry on him – they switched over and back a fair bit in the drawn game – that’s got to be a big part of the plan. Keep Fenton scoreless. Shotless if possible. Take it from there.” In Sean Moran’s column he asks - will time be on Dublin’s side again? “Will Kerry end up losing another famous final or will Dublin be desperately looking for additional minutes at the final whistle? Time will tell.”

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