Ireland and France played out an entertaining tactical battle under the lights of New Taipei City Xinzhuang Stadium in the opening tie of Pool A of the World University Games Men’s Football.
Both sides had chances to take the spoils, with Irish keeper Ian Molloy pulling off a number of excellent saves to ensure that his side maintained their initial target of qualifying for the Quarter Finals of the competition. Speaking after the game, the IT Blanchardstown student said, “I thought the boys put in a great shift tonight. In particular, the two centre halves Ross Taheny and Sean McLoughlin were unbelievable in front of me.”
Ireland had chances themselves in tough conditions with temperatures still in the thirties despite it being nightfall. Sean McLoughlin had a header from a Jason McClelland free kick which just lacked the power required to trouble French goalkeeper Brice Cognard. McClelland himself had a wonderful opportunity that had Cognard at full stretch to tip it around the post for a corner.
Head Coach Greg Yelverton was immensely proud of the performance that his team produced under the circumstances. “It was a great game to watch. The main objective was not to lose the game. We’re still here at 10pm at night and it is still thirty-two degrees.”
In the other game in the pool, Mexico defeated hosts Taipei by three goals to nil, to set up a mouthwatering clash with Ireland on Monday. “It’s just about rest and recovery right now. We’ll do a recovery session tomorrow morning before the tournament opening ceremony. Then we will start to focus on Mexico.”
Ireland – Molloy, Dempsey (Nugent 61’), Taheny, McLaughlin, Kinneen, Dunne, Hollywood (McKeown 70’), Daly-Butz (Doyle 69’), O’Connor, McClelland (Barry 86’), O’Sullivan.
Subs Unused: Kearns (GK), Brookes, Lyons, McAuliffe.
France – Cognard, Blasco (Minselebe 87’), Denis, Feneuil, Garcin (Thibault 54’), Valera (Chastang 76’), Bassin, Canada, Chevalier, Gotisbehere, Sanson.
Subs Unused: Seznec, Alarcon, Chavanon, Daniellou, Houas, Louchart.