Republic of Ireland to host Northern Ireland in November
Martin O’Neill’s side also to visit Poland as part of preparations for Nations League
Republic of Ireland’s Keith Andrews and Sammy Clingan of Northern Ireland during the sides’ last encounter in May 2011, which the Republic won 5-0. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Martin O’Neill will have ample opportunity to start the rebuilding process he has promised over the coming year, it seems, with the FAI having confirmed friendly games against Poland and Northern Ireland for the autumn and committed to one against as yet unnamed opposition in the summer.
The association is obliged to organise friendlies for the Nations League dates that the team does not have a fixture on and it has filled the slots with a first game against Northern Ireland since the 5-0 win in May 2011 and what will be a 28th encounter with the Poles.
Michael O’Neill’s side will travel to Dublin for their game on November 15th. The managers will get to use the friendly as preparation for their Nations League matches against Austria and Denmark three and four days later respectively.
“We looked at the options across Europe [and] travelling to Dublin to play the Republic of Ireland made a lot of sense,” said the Northern Ireland manager.
“It means that we can stay on the island for the week, train in our usual environment and play a game that will be a good test for us ahead of the Austria match. Both countries qualified for Euro 2016 and both narrowly missed out on qualification for Russia, so it will be an evenly matched and hard-fought contest.”
The match should certainly be more evenly matched and harder fought than the one nearly seven years ago when Robbie Keane got a couple of goals against a depleted side managed by Nigel Worthington.
The pairing should prove reasonably attractive and it will enable the FAI to complete its obligations to season ticket holders for the current campaign with that and the June friendly to be confirmed next week making up the numbers for 2017/18, while the home games against Denmark and Wales will be part of package for next year.
No venue has been announced yet for the Poland game but it will be away, the 13th time that Ireland have travelled to the country for a friendly international and the third opportunity for fans from this country to head there since they made such an impact on their hosts during the European Championships in 2012.
Overall, it means that O’Neill will have at least nine games to work with over the course of this year, the first since 1960 in which Ireland have not played with a World Cup or European championship qualifier.
First up will be the game in Turkey in March which is to be preceded by a training game in the southern city of Antalya where a number of peripheral players are expected to be involved. There is also a trip to Paris planned for late May with O’Neill’s side to play a part in the French side’s preparations for Russia. June’s opponents, to be named next week, seem likely to be World Cup finalists as well. Panama will face England in the group stage, among the possibilities.
March 23rd: Turkey (away)
May 28th: France (away)
June: game to be confirmed
Sept 6th: Wales (NL, away)
Sept 11th: Poland (NL, away)
Oct 13th: Denmark (NL, home)
Oct 16th: Wales (NL, home)
Nov 15th: Northern Ireland (home)
Nov 19th: Denmark (NL, away)