The Republic of Ireland are to play Northern Ireland in a behind-closed-doors training game at the Aviva Stadium on June 4th, just three days ahead of the Republic’s friendly with England on June 7th.
This training game will also precede Martin O’Neill’s sides crucial qualifier at home to Scotland on June 13th, as well as Northern Ireland’s pivotal Group F match-up with Romania.
Commenting on the reasoning behind such a fixture, Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill said,
“With the season ending early for a lot of our players, we see this as a mutually beneficial exercise for both sides. Holding the match behind closed doors will give us the flexibility to make any changes we see fit ahead of the European qualifiers on June 13.
“The championship season ends on May 2, and if players are not involved in play-offs, that could be over a month without any games. It represents an ideal opportunity to build the intensity of our preparations, leading into the England friendly, and before the important qualifier against Scotland.”
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill echoed these sentiments,
“It was important for us to get a quality game before the EURO 2016 qualifier against Romania at home on June 13 and this game provides the perfect scenario on the back of the Qatar friendly.
“Having the game behind closed doors will allow both myself and Martin flexibility which we wouldn’t have under normal international circumstances and it will also help greatly in terms of our preparations for the important qualifier against Romania the following weekend.”
The last time these two sides clashed was during the Nations Cup, on the 25th of May, 2011. On that occasion the Republic came out on top with a 5-0 victory.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena