Irish debuts for PNE's Horgan and Boyle
Preston North End pair Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle continued their rise in the football world by making their international debuts for the Republic of Ireland in last night's friendly with Iceland.
The January signings from Dundalk joined the action at the Aviva Stadium in the 62nd minute, Horgan in particular receiving a superb ovation from the Dublin crowd.
Already on the pitch was their PNE team-mate Aiden McGeady who played from the start, winning his 88th cap.
It was a disappointing evening result-wise for the Irish, with a first-half goal from Hordur Magnusson settling the clash.
While the game was more about blooding new faces, Republic manager Martin O’Neill will have been disappointed to have suffered a first defeat at the Aviva Stadium in three years, albeit one at the hands of a side which once again demonstrated the kind of organisation which served it so well at last summer’s Euro 2016 finals.
Iceland enjoyed the better of the first half, with skipper Aron Gunnarsson and Olafur Skulason holding sway in the middle of the field.
Aron Sigurdarson was able to link with frontmen Kjartan Finnbogason and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to good effect.
John Egan’s foul on the combative Finnbogason, for which he was booked, was to lead to the game’s only goal.
Magnusson’s curling left-footed free-kick evaded the Irish wall and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood to give Iceland a deserved lead.
Ireland’s only meaningful response in the first half was a glancing Kevin Doyle header from a James McClean cross which flew well wide.
The home side resumed in much more positive fashion and McClean, McGeady and Cyrus Christie had all sent crosses into the Iceland penalty area before Jonathan Hayes caused Magnusson all sorts of discomfort to win a 49th-minute corner, although one which ultimately produced nothing.
Substitute Holmar Eyjolfsson had to make a 61st-minute block to deny Kevin Doyle.
O’Neill made his move, sending on Boyle and Horgan, as well as Stephen Gleeson and Eunan O’Kane with Shane Long and O’Dowda soon following.
O’Dowda came as close as anyone to dragging the Republic back into the game when he slid past Eyjolfsson before unleashing a shot which defender Sverrir Ingason managed to block for a corner.
Ireland pinned Iceland back as they fought for an equaliser, but were unable to find a way through.
Horgan, Boyle and McGeady will rejoin the Preston squad for training on Thursday morning ahead of Saturday's clash with Nottingham Forest at Deepdale.