KILKENNY soccer had two reasons to celebrate on the international scene at the weekend.
Local duo Michael Drennan and Sean Maguire flew the flag for the county as they helped the Republic of Ireland to a 1-1 friendly draw against Latvia in Riga on Saturday.
Drennan, who plays for Aston Villa, and Maguire, who is earning rave reviews at Waterford United, both started Saturday’s game, which was used as part of the squad’s preparations for next month’s UEFA European under-19 Championship qualifying tournament against Luxembourg, Macedonia and Germany.
Ireland got off to a bright start, going close when Blackburn midfielder Darragh Lenihan hit the post after just two minutes before Drennan headed a Bradley Garmston cross over the bar from close range in the 11th minute.
The hosts took the lead when Shane Griffin put through his own net on 38 minutes, but Ireland made a swift response. They were level within a matter of seconds, Drennan racing in at the back post to power Conor Wilkinson’s cross past Latvian goalkeeper Potapenko.
Ireland created plenty of chances in the first half but Drennan was the only one to capitalise. In a quieter second half Darragh Lenihan twice headed over from Kieran Sadlier corners, while Conor Wilkinson was denied what would have been a late winner by Potapenko’s outstretched foot.