05/03/1898 Belfast England 2-3 James Pyper, Toby Mercer
Tom Scott, William Gibson, Sam Torrans, Billy Anderson, Bob Milne, Mick Cochrane, James Campbell, Toby Mercer, James Pyper, John Peden, Joseph McAllen
On paper, this looks like a very bad result for England, given their previous record against the hapless Irish. Going into this game, they had won 15 and drawn one of their previous 16 meetings with Ireland, scoring 98 goals and conceding nine. However, given the atrocious state of the pitch, wrecked by snow and rain, they were relieved just to escape with the expected victory. The Irish goalkeeper and full-backs resisted well, and it was actually the Irish who took the lead, courtesy of Pyper.
England did, however, for all their problems, dominate possession, and it was thus no surprise when they equalised. By half-time, they were 2-1 up, courtesy of goals from Smith and Athersmith. When Morren extended the lead shortly after the break, they were more or less home and hosed. For Morren, scoring what turned out to be the decisive goal was a nice way to mark his debut, but was not enough to earn him another cap.
Two other debutants – Richards and Garfield – were also never picked again. However, both were forwards, who failed to score in this match. Given that English forwards were generally expected to score against Ireland, neither would have been too surprised to be denied a second chance for their country. Ireland pulled a goal back through McAllen with 20 minutes left. Despite that though, they rarely looked like equalising. The Irish team was pulled from just three clubs – Cliftonville, Distillery and Linfield – all of whom are still, to this day, amongst the top clubs in their country.
Author: Peter Waring
05/03/2014 Nicosia Cyprus 0-0
Alan Mannus (Roy Carroll), Craig Cathcart, Ryan McGivern, Gareth McAuley, Alex Bruce, Oliver Norwood (Pat McCourt), Niall McGinn (Shane Ferguson), Steven Davis, Martin Paterson (Kyle Lafferty), Jamie Ward (Billy McKay (Rory McArdle)), Chris Brunt
Michael O’Neill –
“People have to realise we are trying to build an international team here and it will take time. We weren’t good in possession and they were better on the ball. We are miles away from being the finished article. They put us under pressure because we continually gave the ball away cheaply, and that was the most disappointing thing on the night. In the second half we were better, we had one or two half-chances, but the lads know we are capable of a lot more than that. We had a number of players who were not quite at the pace of the game so a draw, given the level of performance, probably isn’t the worst result we could have got.”
“I thought we started the game brightly and had a good chance saved but we lost our way a little bit after that. It wasn’t the level of performance we were capable of.”