Troy Parrott repeats happy knack of getting Ireland out of jail

Striker scores deep into injury-time to save Ireland’s blushes against lowly Lithuania

Troy Parrott scores a later winner for the Republic of Ireland in the friendly international against Lithuania at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Getty Images

Republic of Ireland 1 Lithuania 0

Nothing to see here. Just Troy Parrott being Troy Parrott on the international stage. Four disallowed goals were all this 30,686 attendance were seemingly privy to until the young Spurs striker, on loan to MK Dons in the lower reaches of English football, once again saved the Stephen Kenny era from outright humiliation.

Parrott has form in this regard. Last summer Kenny’s unsteady ship was heading towards a miserable defeat to Andorra on an astroturf pitch in the Pyrennes. The 20-year-old Dubliner barged into that contest with two goals.

Eighty seconds after the allotted five minutes of injury-time Parrott let fly with a beautiful right-footed drive that ends an international window that was fast heading towards doubt and negativity, on a pure high.


Makes you wonder how he was left unused until the 63rd minute. No matter, the prodigious centre forward keeps reminding everyone he is rising star.

Until Parrott’s late intervention, it was definitely not a night for the glass half-full brigade, as Ireland failed to unlock a Lithuania side that conceded 19 goals while finishing bottom of their recent World Cup qualification group.

Repetitive round trips to the Aviva Stadium bar were made for nights like this. Pint-sized mercies. All the 'Corkness' on show counted for little when the crowd could be heard talking among themselves. It hardly helped that the Lithuanians had as much interest in catching Ireland on the counter as the Rebel County has recently shown in recapturing Sam Maguire.

This very quickly became a backs to the wall affair as Fifa’s 49th-ranked side attempted to pry open the 137th. Nobody else was paying attention. Just us and them.

At least Chiedozie Ogbene was playing his heart out. One of the five Corkonians in the line-up, he almost worked the now expected magic trick early on. Callum Robinson was his usual busy self, connecting with Conor Hourihane before an offside Ogbene touched home Ryan Manning's cross.

Ireland’s Alan Browne and Benas Satkus of Lithuania compete for the ball during the international friendly at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

That first disallowed goal sucked any life out of the Tuesday night atmosphere. Even a revival of the "Keano" chant died on the vine, not helped by Will Keane's heavy first touch and horrible second. The big Wigan striker, as Kenny recently explained, lacks the athleticism and movement of the injured Adam Idah.

Parrott eases passed him in the pecking order.

Once a few bad touches coincided with dropping temperatures the focus inevitably turned to players Kenny had sprung from the shadows for this low-key friendly. Only Parrott has dislodged what remains a settled Ireland team heading into their unknown summer (the two Ukraine games in the Nations League are almost certain to be postponed).

This management have long supported Hourihane, despite a slide into obscurity at Aston Villa, but the 31-year-old’s corner deliveries – the main source of Irish chances in the first half – lacked any threat, never mind accuracy.

So much of the play went through Hourihane for next to no return. He did find the net on 53 minutes, but Robinson was clearly offside and blocking Lithuania goalkeeper Dziugas Bartkus’s view, and in fairness it was his angled ball into the box that fell for Parrott’s winner.

Ogbene continued to enhance his ongoing contract negotiations at Rotherham United. Be it racing down either flank or storming into the box, his enthusiasm did not prove infectious.

The overall performance exposed a continued reliability on the naked desire of Séamus Coleman and Shane Duffy to make something happen over the past decade.

The most exciting moment of the first half was Kenny berating the fourth official for not playing enough injury-time. It proved a managerial masterstroke.

The more the lethargy continued the more likely a disastrous result would occur, like what happened against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan in this stadium last year.

A pitch invader takes a selfie with Ireland goalkeeper Caoimhín Kelleher during the friendly international against Lithuania at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Getty Images

Matt Doherty need not be tainted by the disjointed display, cutting in from the right at every opportunity and almost breaking the deadlock close to the hour mark. That was the moment Keith Andrews sidled up to the boss, perhaps to suggest immediate alterations. Kenny reacted not long after with Parrott and James McClean entering the fray for Keane and Dara O'Shea as Manning slotted into centre back.

Instead of the changes waking Ireland up, the unthinkable almost happened as Edgaras Utkus followed the ball forward to topspin a shot inches wide of Caoimhín Kelleher’s left-hand post.

The third disallowed goal was the best. Robinson’s scooped pass had McClean and Parrott haring down the left but Parrott held the ball a fraction too long before feeding the veteran winger, ensuring that McClean’s squared ball for Ogbene was rightly flagged.

Seconds later Fedor Cernych tested the Belgium referee's eyesight with a theatrical dive in the box after bumping off John Egan. Mr Lardot produced a yellow card.

With Duffy resting in the stand, Egan charged forward to get a late header on target but Bartkus made a clean save. Even the usual late drama was muted, as many fans had headed for home when Doherty headed down McClean’s cross for Parrott’s clean strike to be brilliantly denied by Bartkus.

The fourth offside goal belonged to Scott Hogan and that seemed to be that, but this Ireland team refuses to ever say die.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Kelleher (Liverpool); O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Egan (Sheffield United, capt), Collins (Burnley); Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Hourihane (Sheffield United), Browne (Preston North End), Manning (Swansea City); Ogbene (Rotherham United), Robinson (West Bromwich Albion); Will Keane (Wigan Athletic).

Subs: Parrott (MK Dons) for Keane, McClean (Wigan Athletic) for O'Shea (both 63 mins), Hogan (Birmingham City) for Robinson (77 mins), Knight (Derby County) for Ogbene, Hendrick (Queens Park Rangers) for Browne (both 82 mins).

LITHUANIA: Bartkus (Hapoel Ironi); L Klimavicius (FK Panevezys), Milasius (Podbeskidzie), Utkus (Cercle Brugge), Satkus (FC Nurnberg), Vaitkunas (Kauno Zalgiris); Cernych (Jagiellonia Bialystok, capt), Slivka (Apollon Smyrnis), Lasickas (Vozdovac); A Klimavicius (FC Hegelmann), Baravykas (UTA Arad).

Subs: Kazlauskas (KF Zalgiris) for Milasius (half-time), Kruzikas (FC Hegelmann) for A Klimavicius (60 mins), Sirvys (Panevezys) for Lasickas (84 mins), Sirgedas (Kauno Zalgiris) for Cernych (87 mins).

Referee: Jonathan Lardot (Belgium).