A look back on the Republic of Ireland’s 2022 UEFA Nations League journey

Stephen Kenny’s men concluded their campaign last night against Armenia.

The UEFA Nations League’s group stages came to a close last night as the Republic of Ireland wrapped up their campaign with a narrow 3-2 win against Armenia.

The result left the Boys In Green in third place on seven points, six behind leaders Scotland and only four ahead of bottom side Armenia. If Ireland were beaten last night, they would’ve faced relegation to Group 2.

It was a roller-coaster six games for Stephen Kenny’s men who suffered from inconsistency throughout which could be down to the spaces between each fixture. Kenny himself remains under fire, with people questioning if he’s the right man for the job.


Matchday 1 – Armenia 1-0 Republic of Ireland

The opening game against Armenia immediately spelt out trouble for the side.

Armenia were the lowest ranked side heading to the group stages and Ireland had the golden opportunity to get off on the right foot in their first game.

They dominated the game throughout, finishing the game with 68% possession but an Eduard Spertsyan shot from distance in the 74th minute was the difference between the sides on the night and Ireland were left licking their wounds.

The side continued to put pressure on Armenia but to no avail in a nightmare start for Ireland.

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Matchday 2 – Republic of Ireland 0-1 Ukraine

Ireland had the chance to bounce back from their defeat just four days later but had the tough task of facing Ukraine.

Callum Robinson had a controversial penalty call on the half hour mark but the referee insisted there was no contact, despite a clear kick on Robinson’s calf.

The warning signs were there for Ireland with Taras Kacharaba’s sensational strike was ruled out for offside but it was two minutes into the second half when they finally got their goal. Substitute Viktor Tsyhankov’s free-kick beat everyone in the box and squeezed past Caoimhin Kelleher’s right post giving Ukraine the goal and ultimately, the win.

Two losses from two meant the side were already out of contention for topping the group as they prepared to face Scotland.

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Matchday 3 – Republic of Ireland 3-0 Scotland

Undoubtedly, their game of the tournament.

No one expected a result for Ireland before the match against a Scotland side brimming with Premier League talent but Stephen Kenny’s men put up a mighty performance.

The pressure was on Kenny to deliver results after the opening two rounds and first-half goals from Alan Browne and Troy Parrott were topped off by a cracking Michael Obafemi finish as the side got their first points on the board.

The result seemed a turning point for the side as it felt that the fans were finally behind the team again and with a performance like that, you couldn’t blame them. The next step was to build on this incredible result.

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Matchday 4 – Ukraine 1-1 Republic of Ireland

Ukraine were top of the pile at this stage of the tournament and after losing their initial game against the side, Ukraine were the favourites to win the tie.

It was end-to-end to begin with until Nathan Collins took matters into his own hands from centre-back and ended his slaloming run with a fantastic outside the boot finish.

Ukraine continued to knock on the door and it was minutes after the interval when Artem Dovbyk tapped the ball into the net after the ball was squared to him.

Neither side could find the winner but a draw seemed a fair result in a terrific encounter that left the Boys In Green on four points.

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Matchday 5 – Scotland 2-1 Republic of Ireland

It would be four months later when the sides resumed their Nations League campaign and Ireland faced the task of travelling away to a Scotland side that would be seeking vengeance for their defeat in June.

Ireland got off the mark quick with John Egan volleying home on eighteen minutes after an impressive opening twenty minutes for the side. They continued to apply pressure and went into the interval on top.

However, similar to their games against Ukraine, they conceded very early on in the second half with Jack Hendry’s header levelling the sides on 49 minutes.

Things got worse for Stephen Kenny’s men as Scotland were awarded a penalty in the dying embers of the game, and Bouremouth’s Ryan Christie made no mistake from the spot.

The result meant Ireland were unable to achieve promotion from their game but a loss against Armenia in their final game would mean relegation.

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Matchday 6 – Republic of Ireland 3-2 Armenia

Once again, Ireland got off to a great start and were rewarded with another goal from centre-back John Egan, who headed home on eighteen minutes, the same time he scored against Scotland.

Ireland remained in control and got a foothold of the game when another Michael Obafemi wondergoal doubled their lead and it looked like routine win for Ireland was on the cards.

However, a five-minute lapse of concentration saw Armenia pull two goals back and the game was turned on its head with a place in the group the reward for the side that could find the next goal.

Luckily, Ireland were handed a lifeline when VAR awarded the side a penalty after a handball in the box and Robbie Brady made no mistake from the spot on his international return. Two Armenian players were shown red cards amidst the penalty being awarded as the final whistle blew, ensuring Ireland’s safety for another year.

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Overall, it was a mixed bag for the Republic of Ireland this year. There was glimpses of what they can do when they bring the game to the side, which was evident in their first game against Scotland but it’s a matter of consistency and maintaining these performance in every game.

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