Republic and Northern Ireland in Dublin stalemate

Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce has an attempt on goal
Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce has an attempt on goal

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0 NORTHERN IRELAND 0

Robbie Brady was handed his first Republic of Ireland appearance for a year as he returned from a serious knee injury to face Northern Ireland in Dublin.

Brady was included along with skipper Seamus Coleman, who had missed the last three games with a stress fracture of the foot, John Egan, Darragh Lenihan, Callum O'Dowda and skipper-for-the-night Glenn Whelan in six changes to the side which started against Wales last month.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill made two changes to the side which started against Bosnia and Herzegovina last month, with Gavin Whyte winning a first senior start as he and Michael Smith replaced Ollie Norwood and Paddy McNair.

There were boos from both sets of fans as the respective national anthems were played in their first meeting since 2011.

James McClean, whose decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy has singled him out for abuse, was jeered by the travelling fans as he took an early throw-in, prompting the home contingent to drown out the cat-calls with cheers.

It was Northern Ireland who almost struck the first blow with 14 minutes gone when Shane Duffy misjudged Steven Davis' ball forward and Liam Boyce hooked on for Stuart Dallas to find Whyte in space, but his shot was blocked by the advancing Darren Randolph.

Seconds later, there was blood spilled when Coleman and Boyce clashed heads and both needed treatment.

Northern Ireland keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell had to tip a 21st-minute Duffy effort over after the defender headed a Brady free-kick rather too firmly into the turf, but the visitors continued to enjoy the better of the first half.

Whelan's 85th appearance for his country came to an end when he was replaced to warm applause by Conor Hourihane with nine minutes of the first half remaining.

Dallas had an opportunity to open the scoring with four minutes of the half remaining when he was played into space by Davis after Lenihan's pass had been intercepted, but again Randolph was equal to the task to ensure the sides went in goalless.

Randolph kept the home side level once again with 18 minutes remaining when, after substitute Jordan Jones had pounced upon an error by Lenihan, he saved with his foot.