Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ireland U17's Qualify for elite stages with game to spare

Ireland confirmed their place in the Elite qualifying stages of the European u17 championship with a 2 - 0 win over Albania at the centenary stadium in Malta yesterday afternoon. Two goals in the first ten minutes was enough to see Ireland guarantee a top two finish, with a game to spare in their qualifying group.

Ireland will face Norway in Thursday's concluding qualifier knowing victory will see them finish top of the group and guarantee a first seeding in the elite draw to be made later this year.

Morling kept faith with the same starting team from Saturday and they struck within the first minute. Colm Horgan and Darragh Lenihan combined to free Kenny McEvoy into space on the right wing and his low cross was bundled over the line by the alert Philip Roberts.

That strike, with just 38 seconds gone, provided Ireland with the impetus to seek further goals and they doubled their advantage in similar fashion on ten minutes.

McEvoy worked his magic on the flank by skipping past two defenders and on cue to head home his pinpoint delivery was James Murphy.

Ireland's impressive start should have secured a third goal six minutes later only for the offside flag to be harshly raised when Tommie Hoban nodded a Mikey Drennan cross past goalkeeper Aldo Tedja.

The second half saw Ireland maintain their high tempo with Lenihan and Kealan Dillon close to adding more goals in the opening quarter of an hour. Sam Byrne, an interval replacement for Roberts, sped free of his marker on 74 minutes yet his shot from point blank range was well stopped by Tedja.

Ireland's performance was all the more admirable given the gamesmanship dished out by their opponents.

"We scored early and could have won by more," said Morling afterwards. "The players kept possession well in the second half and saw out the game for a deserved victory.
It was a great effort by the lads in an environment they wouldn't have experienced before."

"We had six players receive bookings but most of these were undeserved. I thought our lads remained calm in the face of much provocation. To qualify with a game left is a marvelous tribute to the players and they certainly were the better team in both games so far."


Coll (Manchester United); Horgan (Salthill Devon), Smith (Newcastle United), Hoban (Watford), Kavanagh (Belvedere); Drennan (Aston Villa), Lenihan (Belvedere), Dillon (Derby County), McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur); Murphy (Reading), Roberts (Arsenal),
Substiutions: Byrne (St Joseph's Boys) for Roberts (h/t), Garmston (West Brom) for Drennan (70 mins), Sadlier (West Ham United) for Murphy (79 mins).

UEFA Under-17 Championship first phase qualifiers

Saturday September 25
Ireland 3-1 Malta.

Monday September 27
Ireland 2-0 Albania.

Thursday September 30
Ireland v Norway - Centenary Stadium, Ta' Qali (2pm).

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