(Credit: Billy Galligan)
The Football Association of Ireland and the English FA have confirmed that home and away friendly matches will take place between the Republic of Ireland and England. The first match will take place in Wembley on May 29, 2013 and will form part of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations, while the return match will be played at Aviva Stadium and is provisionally scheduled for November 2014.
The match next year will be the first meeting of the sides since the notorious abandoned game at Lansdowne Road in February 1995. David Kelly scored on that night to give Ireland a 1-0 lead. However, the match had to be abandoned shortly after this goal due to English fans rioting.
The last meeting of the teams in Wembley was in a European Championship qualification tie in 1991. It was a night that produced one of the most memorable performances of the Jack Charlton era and ended in a 1-1 draw, with Lee Dixon and Niall Quinn on the scoresheet for the respective sides.
The friendly was announced by the English FA along with an announcement of a glamour tie with Brazil in February 2013. Although there is no doubt that Brazil is the most high profile of England’s friendlies to mark the association’s 150th anniversary, their Manager Director Adrian Bevington also claimed that the Irish game formed a key part of the celebrations.
“We are also looking forward to hosting Republic of Ireland and Scotland at Wembley next year. These matches are sure to evoke great passion among the supporters.”
Ireland will play the Faroe Islands in a World Cup qualifier nine days after next May’s friendly with England and this match will serve as ideal preparation for another vital game on the road to Rio.
Paul Walsh is a part-time freelance journalist based in Dublin and freelancing for a number of publications. Follow him on twitter @walshpots