Competition: UEFA Nation’s League, League B Group 1.
Date: 27 September 2022
Result: Ireland 3 – 2 Armenia
Tickets: From €20
Game/ Experience Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Game: I’ve seen some dreadful Ireland games over the years, and it’s for that reason, combined with the limited stock of players available to him, that these more exciting recent games involving a fairly fluid (if limited) football team have me on the ‘Kenny in’ side of what’s become an Irish international fan divide. This team are good to watch, and that gives a lot of leeway in my opinion, especialyl when the quality of player is clearly not there.
That said, they’re also flaky. Ireland totally dominated this game for 70 minutes, with Armenia offering almost no threat as a John Egan header early on and then a long-distance strike from Michael Obafemi gave Ireland a really comfortable lead. Two different mistakes within a couple of minutes of each other got Armenia back to 2-2 in the 75th minute, though (both well taken goals, too), a dangerous position for Ireland where a loss would have been enough to relegate them to the Nations League third tier.
There was another decent chance for Armenia at 2-2, before the game closed with a period of complete chaos, a VAR penalty for one of the most obvious handball stops from a defender you’d hope to see. Armenia got a red card for the handball, another for some surprisingly over the top complaints (it was absolutely blatant), and Brady scored the penalty to win it in injury time. Great entertainment.
The ground: I’ve been to the Aviva as both a spectator and press many times, but never in this part of the ground, for which I was kindly leant a season ticket by a friend (we sat in Block 123, West Stand). It actually makes a hell of a difference sat down in the bottom tier – much more atmospheric, and a perfect view of the referee doing his VAR check almost right in front of us. Is it worth the more expensive seats? I’m not sure it is, to be honest, but the change was great.
Extras: I’m not really bothering with programmes etc these days – they’re all too similar. The possibility of an England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales group for next year fell on Scotland’s promotion, but with a bit of luck 2023 could be a lot of fun.
Assorted asides: A huge number of people disappeared into the stands with Ireland 2-0 up to watch the Ireland U-21 side lose on penalties to Israel in a Euro qualifier on TV. Hearing the feedback from the back unrelated to the game we were watching made for a weird few moments.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 10. Home wins: 6 Draws: 1 Away wins: 3
Goals: 29. Home goals: 16. Away goals: 13. Goals per game: 2.9