Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland v England: Talking points ahead of Aviva clash

By Simon Peach

The Republic of Ireland and England lock horns in Dublin for the first time in 20 years on Sunday.

Simon Peach looks at the main talking points in the build-up.


The main focus ahead of the Aviva Stadium encounter revolves around what might happen off the field. This is England's first trip to the Irish capital since 1995, when their friendly was abandoned after hooligans threw seats and other objects onto the pitch. It is widely regarded as one of the darkest nights in English football history and understandably puts the spotlight on Sunday's friendly between the sides.


The England squad met up ahead of this match on Wednesday, the day the Football Association charged Wilshere with misconduct following his foul-mouthed, anti-Tottenham chants during the FA Cup victory parade. It may well result in a significant financial penalty - but that is unlikely to have much impact on the Arsenal midfielder's pocket. It will, though, be interesting to see how he copes with being under the spotlight once more.


After an injury-ravaged year, the 26-year-old is finally showing flashes of his undoubted quality. Walcott followed up a hat-trick in the mauling of West Brom by opening the scoring in last weekend's FA Cup final win against Aston Villa. It repaid the faith Arsene Wenger showed in him and such form, along with a number of high-profile absentees, means Roy Hodgson will be tempted to start the Arsenal man in Dublin.


Sunday's game pits Roy Hodgson against a man who was so nearly England manager himself. O'Neill took the reins as Republic coach in November 2013 - a first international role after a long, impressive career in club management. That success saw 63-year-old among the frontrunners to take the England post following the departures of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, but now his goal is to thwart the Three Lions.


Jamie Vardy had just helped Fleetwood achieve promotion from the Conference when Hodgson took the reins as England manager in May 2012. Now, the former Stocksbridge Park Steels forward is in line for his Three Lions debut, as is one-time bricklayer Charlie Austin, six years after being plucked from part-timers Poole.

There is a similar Roy of the Rovers story in the Ireland camp, with Harry Arter, who was playing for non-league Woking in 2010, set to make his debut at the end of a season in which he helped Bournemouth to the Premier League.

Further reading

James Lawton: English football's long black night had never looked so far from dawn 

Republic of Ireland v England: Paddy Power covers shop in bubble wrap to make it 'yob-proof' ahead of Aviva Stadium clash

Fifa paid FAI '€5m' after Thierry Henry handball dumped Republic of Ireland out of World Cup playoffs, claims John Delaney

Five previous encounters between the two countries

September 30 1946: Republic of Ireland 0-1 England

Just over a year after World War II had come to an end, England and Ireland met for the first time in front of 32,000 at Dalymount Park in Dublin, home of Bohemians. Sir Tom Finney, who had spent the war in the Royal Armoured Corps, scored England's winner eight minutes from time.

June 12 1988: England 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Sir Bobby Robson's Euro '88 campaign got off to the worst possible start after Ray Houghton gave the Republic a shock win in their first appearance at a major international tournament.

Kenny Sansom failed to clear Tony Galvin's cross properly and the ball ballooned up to John Aldridge, who headed it to Houghton and he nodded past Peter Shilton to give the Irish a famous win in Stuttgart.

November 14 1990: Republic of Ireland 1-1 England

A sign of what was to come five years later. Over 100 people were arrested as England and Ireland fans clashed in Dublin after the game. On the pitch David Platt tapped in Lee Dixon's cross to put England ahead, but substitute Tony Cascarino headed past Chris Woods to equalise before being mobbed by ecstatic home fans who ran on to the pitch at Lansdowne Road.

February 15 1995: Republic of Ireland 1-0 England (match abandoned due to crowd trouble)

The most memorable match between the two nations - but for all the wrong reasons. The game at Lansdowne Road had to be abandoned after 27 minutes when England fans in the upper west stand, annoyed at seeing their team go 1-0 down, started ripping up seats and benches before hurling them at home supporters below.

Twenty supporters were injured in the incident, which is still regarded by many as the darkest night for English football.

It later emerged that far-right groups such as Combat 18 had bought tickets for the match to cause trouble. Republic manager Jack Charlton could not hide his fury, saying afterwards: "Every Englishman should be ashamed".

Terry Venables, then in charge of England, described the night as "sickening".

May 29 2013: England 1 Republic of Ireland 1

It was not until 18 years later that the countries would meet again. A minority crammed the words of anti-IRA song 'No Surrender' into God Save The Queen, despite Roy Hodgson's letter to fans.

However, English heads were shaken due to the limitations of their team rather than scenes taking place in the stands. The team struggled to get going and fell behind to a Shane Long goal after just 13 minutes.

Defeat was avoided as Frank Lampard saved England's blushes in a performance Gary Lineker claimed was a return to the "dark ages".


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