Quinn's late strike earns draw with Croatia
By Damien ***
DUBLIN, June 2 (Reuter) - An 89th minute goal from striker Niall Quinn
enabled Ireland to end their losing streak with a 2-2 draw in a friendly
against Croatia on Sunday.
Quinn pounced to shoot home a loose ball from eight metres after a
free-kick from the right by substitute defender Curtis Fleming was headed
down by Liam Daish.
The goal was met with cheers of delight by home fans in the 29,100 crowd
as it ended Ireland's run of five successive defeats, including three
since Mick McCarthy succeeded Jack Charlton as manager in February.
Croatia, bound for the European championship finals in England starting on
Saturday, seized the lead in the 14th minute when striker Davor Suker,
left unmarked at the far post, stooped to head home from an inswinging
corner by midfielder Aljosa Asanovic.
Debutant striker Keith O'Neill scored his, and Ireland's, first
international goal under McCarthy's management in the 24th minute.
O'Neill showed great composure to score in the bottom right corner from
just inside the penalty area after Quinn did well to chest a cross from
winger Mark Kennedy into his path.
Team captain Boban restored Croatia's advantage in the 45th minute when he
ran onto a square pass from midfielder Goran Vlaovic to shoot beyond Shay
Given in the Ireland goal.
However, Quinn's last-gasp goal gave the Irish a measure of consolation.
Croat manager Miroslav Blazevic said: ``Ireland were the most difficult
opponents we have played since we met Italy in the European championship
qualifying matches and it was a valuable run around before the finals.
``Ireland did not give us any time to settle on the ball and they caused
us a lot of problems in the air. Today is the first time my defenders have
come up against someone who can head the ball better than themeslves in
``But I do not believe the other teams in our group in England (Portugal,
Turkey and Denmark) will play the same way as Ireland. There will be a lot
more playing of the ball on the ground and the games will be very
different,'' he added.
Ireland: 1-Shay Given; 2-Ken Cunningham (12-Curtis Fleming, 61st), 5-Gary
Breen (19-Tony Cascarino, 75th), 4-Liam Daish, 6-Jeff Kenna (22-Alan
Kernaghan 66th), 3-Terry Phelan (14-Ian Harte 46th), 7-Liam O'Brien,
8-Alan McLoughlin, 11-Mark Kennedy, 9-Niall Quinn, 10-Keith O'Neill
(13-Alan Moore 46th).
Croatia: 1-Marujan Mrmic (12-Drazen Ladic 46th); 2-Mario Stanic
(14-Zvonimir Soldo 80th), 6-Slaven Bilic, 5-Nikola Jerkan, 4-Igor Stimac,
3-Robert Jarni, 7-Aljosa Asanovic, 10-Zvonimir Boban, 8-Goran Vlaovic
(13-Nikola Jurcevic 72nd), 9-Davor Suker, 11-Alen Boksic.