The Republic of Ireland failed to end a disappointing year on a high note as they were held to a draw by New Zealand on a night when James McClean called time on his international career.
Adam Idah’s 28th-minute goal put the Republic in control at half-time in the Dublin friendly.
But New Zealand hit back through Matthew Garbett just before the hour mark.
McClean then bid farewell to the Irish fans in what could also prove to be Stephen Kenny’s final game in charge of the team.
Kenny’s contract is up and the Dubliner’s fate is expected to be decided at next week’s Football Association of Ireland board meeting.
If this ends up being Kenny’s farewell, he will have to reflect on another frustrating night as his team were unable to finish 2023 with a morale-boosting victory, after failing to qualify for the European Football Championship. next summer.
McClean says goodbye
With speculation over Kenny’s future continuing into next week, McClean was able to bid farewell to Irish fans as he put the finishing touches to an 11-year international career that included 103 caps and appearances at Euro 2012 and 2016.
McClean, not named captain until Shane Duffy in his last match, was joined on the pitch before kick-off by three of his four children as fans showed their appreciation for the Wrexham player.
Starting at left back, the 34-year-old was involved as the Republic dominated possession, although he was denied a parting goal when Michael Boxall rushed to block his shot on goal in the ninth minute.
McClean’s evening – and Republic’s career – ended in touching fashion in the 66th minute when he was applauded off the field by his teammates and the Irish fans to be replaced by Ryan Manning, the former winger of Wigan having also received a guard of honor before. departure into the tunnel after the match.
Boos after another frustrating night
With Mikey Johnston providing a lively outlet, much of the Republic’s play took place down the left and Matt Doherty should have opened the scoring from close range after being found by Jason Knight.
The home side’s early superiority produced the first goal just before the half-hour mark, when Mark Sykes – making his first international start – dispossessed Nando Pijnaker, allowing Idah to go through and finish calmly.
With the Republic in the lead for much of the first half, goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher was called into action when his flying save kept out Sarpreet Singh’s curling effort from range.
The Republic pressed for a second early in the second half, with Jayson Molumby shooting just wide from outside the box before Duffy headed a McClean corner straight at New Zealand goalkeeper Max Crocombe.
However, New Zealand became increasingly dangerous in the second half and found the equalizer when Garbett curled a superb low effort past Republic replacement goalkeeper Mark Travers after Duffy’s challenge on Chris Wood.
New Zealand also had a goal disallowed for offside, and although McClean was treated to an emotional farewell, the home side failed to find a late winner as Kenny’s side finished the year with three victories – including two against Gibraltar – in 10 matches.
The visitors missed a chance to grab a last-gasp victory when substitute Tyler Bindon headed home.
At full time, sections of the 26,517 spectators were booed as Kenny applauded the Irish fans for what many expected to be the final time.
Republic of Ireland
- 16KellerReplaced byCrosshas 45′minutes
- 2DohertyReplaced byBrownhas 73′minutes
- 12For the Omobams
- 11McCleanReplaced byManninghas 67′minutes
- 17KnightReplaced byCullenhas 54′minutes
- tenIdaReplaced byFergusonhas 66′minutes
- 20JohnstonReplaced byMoranhas 79′minutes
- 2PayneReplaced byBindhas 89′minutes
- 7GarbettReplaced byLouishas 82′minutes
- 9DrinkReplaced byWomenhas 60′minutes
- 20McCowattReplaced byJusthas 77′minutes
- 16I kill
- 17To grieve
- Urs Schnyder
Match ends, Republic of Ireland 1, New Zealand 1.
Second Half ends, Ireland 1, New Zealand 1.
Failed attempt. Tyler Bindon (New Zealand) header from the penalty spot. Assisted by Clayton Lewis with a cross following a free kick situation.
Foul by Andrew Omobamidele (Republic of Ireland).
Elijah Just (New Zealand) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, New Zealand. Conceded by Ryan Manning.
Corner, New Zealand. Conceded by Josh Cullen.
Attempt blocked. Sarpreet Singh (New Zealand) left footed shot from the right side of the penalty area. 70′ +1′ Corner, Tyler Bindon.
Replacement, New Zealand. Tyler Bindon replaces Tim Payne.
Corner, New Zealand. Granted by Alan Browne.
Failed attempt. Shane Duffy (Republic of Ireland) header from the penalty spot. 70′ Corner, Ryan Manning.
Corner, Republic of Ireland. Conceded by Tim Payne.
Attempt saved. Evan Ferguson (Republic of Ireland) right footed shot from the penalty spot is saved. 70′ +1′ Corner, Jayson Molumby.
Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in his own half.
Foul by Elijah Just (New Zealand).
Foul by Ryan Manning (Republic of Ireland).
Marko Stamenic (New Zealand) wins a free kick in his own half.
Foul by Evan Ferguson (Republic of Ireland).
Nando Pijnaker (New Zealand) wins a free kick in his own half.
Replacement, New Zealand. Clayton Lewis replaces Matthew Garbett due to injury.