Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ireland qualify for European U19 semi-finals

Paul Doolin's Ireland U19 side booked a semi-final showdown with tournament favourites Spain in the European Championship finals today, following a scoreless draw against hosts Romania.

Prior to the encounter both sides had hopes of advancing to the last four yet it was the 'Boys In Green' who held on to seal their place after a frantic second half failed to produce an opening. Paul Doolin's side face tournament favourites Spain on Friday for a place in the final.

Having suffered defeats in their previous two games, Romania were determined to put on a show in front of the home crowd. Lucian Burchel's side enjoyed a bright opening and went close on two occasions, with Ionuţ Năstăsie the source of the danger. First he drilled wide having cut into the area and then drew a save from Aaron McCarey from a similar position.

Ireland appeared to lack the energy they displayed during an opening win against Greece and their subsequent loss to the Czech Republic, but they nonetheless probed in search of an opener. With ten minutes of the half remaining, Conor Murphy and Anthony O'Connor combined well, the latter providing a cross for Joseph Shaughnessy, who headed wide. John Egan's subsequent effort from O'Connor's corner produced a similar result.

The teams increased the tempo significantly following the restart and after O'Connor had a goal ruled out for offside, Romania broke up the other end and struck the top of the crossbar. The action continued to flow and it was Ireland who almost stole in soon afterwards when Kevin Knight's pass to the far post just avoiding Connor Smith's outstretched boot.

Romario Benzar's goal-bound blast from distance in the 66th minute elicited a smart save from McCarey as Romania continued to seek an all-important goal. They were to be frustrated again when Egan headed Sebastian Remeş's effort off the line.

Group A

1 Czech Republic 9
2 Ireland 4
3 Greece 3
4 Romania 1

Ireland – Aaron McCarey; Matt Doherty, John Egan (C), Anthony O’Connor, Joe Shaugnessy; Jeff Hendrick, Samir Carruthers, John O’Sullivan, Sean Murray, Anthony Forde; Conor Murphy

Romania – Laurenţiu Brănescu, Laurenţiu Brănescu, Sebastian Remeş, Adrian Avrămia, Romario Benzar, Ionuţ Năstăsie (C), Ionuţ Gugu, Sebastian Chitoşcă, Enghin Amet, Mihai Roman, Nicolae Stanciu