The Republic of Ireland and Hungary played out a goalless draw in an entertaining friendly in Budapest.
After the Republic’s players were booed for taking a knee by the home support, Irish captain John Egan headed against the bar inside five minutes.
Euro 2020-bound Hungary’s best first-half chance came when Adam Szalai forced Gavin Bazunu into a smart save.
Substitute keeper Caoimhin Kelleher then pulled off two excellent saves to keep Hungary out late on.
Hungary now head to the Euros where they face an uphill task if they are to reach the knockout stages of the competition.
Marco Rossi’s men have been draw in Group F along with world champions France, defending champions Portugal and Germany.
Kenny’s men end their June friendlies with a draw but last Thursday’s first win under their new manager as they beat minnows Andorra 4-1 did offer some badly-needed optimism for the team’s future ahead of September’s World Cup qualifiers against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia.
Irish players booed before match
Against the backdrop of the debate surrounding England players taking the knee in recent friendlies, which saw manager Gareth Southgate condemn a small number of fans who booed his players, the 7,000-strong Hungarian support were vocal in their views as the Republic made the stance before kick-off.
As the visitors took the knee and several home players pointed at the ‘respect’ logo on their sleeves as they stood, a chorus of boos and jeers rang out around the Szusza Ferenc Stadion.
On the pitch it was the Republic who should have taken an early lead when Egan saw his header power off the crossbar from Josh Cullen’s free-kick inside five minutes, however Hungary were quickest to clear away the second ball.
Egan’s chance seemed to settle the hosts, who looked confident on the ball but missed the creative spark of their injured talisman Dominik Szoboszlai as they were restricted to three long-range efforts from Laszlo Kleinheisler.
However the stand-out moment of the first half belonged to Republic goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu with the Manchester City stopper pulling off a brilliant save to deny Adam Szalai as the forward’s header looked like it would nestle in the top corner.
Kelleher steps up on debut
Bazunu was replaced by Liverpool goalkeeper Kelleher at the break and the debutant was immediately called into action as he got down well to keep out Szalai’s snap-shot from the edge of the area.
Troy Parrott, the Republic’s hero against Andorra, had seen little of the ball in the first half as he was well-marshalled by the home defence and was replaced by Daryl Horgan shortly before the hour mark.
Just like against Andorra, Horgan almost had an instant impact as he played in Adam Idah but the forward was beaten to the ball by a last-ditch challenge by Willi Orban.
Idah was involved again as both teams edged closer to a Budapest breakthrough, with the Norwich striker shooting from distance but substitute keeper Adam Bogdan was equal to it, while Shane Duffy pulled off a superb block to deny Loic Nego at the other end.
Kelleher, who deputised for Liverpool’s number one Alisson when the Brazilian was injured last season, pulled off two stunning saves to keep Szalai and Attila Szalai out as the hosts pressed for a perfect send-off.
His first was a brilliant reaction save to keep the Hungarian captain’s header out and he was called into action again from the resulting corner when the ball was half-cleared and defender Attila Szalai powered an effort towards the top corner, only for Kelleher to claw the ball away.
Szalai, frustrated that both Irish keepers had kept him out, had two efforts from range wide, and there was almost a debut to remember for Chiedozie Ogbene in the closing moments, as the forward, who became the first African-born player to represent the Republic, fired into the side netting in the final minute with his first touch of the match.
- 1GulácsiSubstituted forBogdanat 63′minutes
- 4SzalaiBooked at 72mins
- 26BollaSubstituted forLovrencsicsat 45′minutes
- 15KleinheislerSubstituted forNegoat 63′minutes
- 5FiolaSubstituted forHahnat 79′minutes
- 9SzalaiSubstituted forSchonat 88′minutes
- 17VargaSubstituted forVargaat 45′minutes
R. of Ireland
- 1BazunuSubstituted forKelleherat 45′minutes
- 8HourihaneSubstituted forMolumbyat 57′minutes
- 11McCleanSubstituted forManningat 85′minutes
- 14KnightSubstituted forOgbeneat 89′minutes
- 10ParrottSubstituted forHorganat 56′minutes
- 9IdahSubstituted forCollinsat 89′minutes
- Daniel Stefanski
Match ends, Hungary 0, Republic of Ireland 0.
Second Half ends, Hungary 0, Republic of Ireland 0.
Foul by János Csaba Hahn (Hungary).
Chiedozie Ogbene (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ádám Nagy (Hungary).
Daryl Horgan (Republic of Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
András Schäfer (Hungary) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jayson Molumby (Republic of Ireland).
Attempt saved. Szabolcs Schon (Hungary) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by András Schäfer.
Attempt missed. Chiedozie Ogbene (Republic of Ireland) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Daryl Horgan with a through ball.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. James Collins replaces Adam Idah.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Chiedozie Ogbene replaces Jason Knight.
Substitution, Hungary. Szabolcs Schon replaces Ádám Szalai.
Attempt missed. Ádám Szalai (Hungary) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ádám Nagy.
Attempt missed. Ádám Szalai (Hungary) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Substitution, Republic of Ireland. Ryan Manning replaces James McClean.
Corner, Hungary. Conceded by Caoimhin Kelleher.
Attempt saved. Attila Szalai (Hungary) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by András Schäfer.
Attempt blocked. Willi Orban (Hungary) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by János Csaba Hahn.
Corner, Hungary. Conceded by Caoimhin Kelleher.