Derby County’s Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon both came off the bench for the Republic of Ireland to pick up their latest international caps on Wednesday evening in a 1-1 draw against England.
Rams Academy graduate Hendrick came off the bench for the final 15 minutes of the international friendly at Wembley Stadium, arranged as part of the FA’s 150th Year celebrations during 2013, and Sammon followed soon afterwards as the game approached the latter stages.
Dublin-born Hendrick’s appearance earned him his second cap for his country and Sammon’s late appearance was his fourth outing for Ireland, while fellow Ram Richard Keogh was an unused substitute for the visitors.
The game was played before an 80,000-plus crowd in London as the sides met for the first time since 1995.
Sammon, Hendrick and Keogh were all named on the bench by Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni as he named an experienced side to tackle the Three Lions, with Robbie Keane flying in from Los Angeles, fresh from scoring a hat-trick against Seattle Sounders for LA Galaxy at the weekend, to captain his country.
The game itself sprang into life after just 13 minutes and Derby’s trio were on their feet celebrating when West Bromwich Albion frontman Shane Long gave the visitors the lead with a superb header beyond England goalkeeper Joe Hart, from Seamus Coleman’s right-wing cross.
England were level inside ten minutes though as Frank Lampard scrambled home an equaliser from close range.
The second half saw both sides have chances to edge back in front before Hendrick entered the action with 73 minutes on the clock in place of Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan, and in turn lined up against England’s star-studded centre midfield pairing of Chelsea’s Lampard and Manchester United’s Player of the Season Michael Carrick.
Frontman Sammon quickly followed on 82 minutes in place of Stoke’s Jon Walters to partner Long in attack for the final eight minutes.
Neither Hendrick or Sammon were able to make a big impact in their short time on the pitch, but did little wrong at a crucial time in the game.
England piled on late pressure as the clock ran down and Ireland goalkeeper David Forde made fine saves from Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott in the latter stages to deny the home side the victory they craved.
Next up for Ireland is another friendly match against Georgia on Sunday (2nd June) in Dublin, before facing the Faroe Islands on Friday 7th June in a World Cup Qualifier, again in Dublin, and then another friendly against Spain in New York on 11th June.