11.10.2006 at 15:00 Stadium Mdlost Strumica
0 - 2
Rep of Ireland Under 19
Referee: Radek Matejek (CZE)
European Qualifier / T/S-match
Goals by Darren Dennehy and in form striker Adam Rooney saw Ireland defeat a fancied Dutch team to top the qualifying group in Macedonia.
This game was always going to be the decider as both Holland and Ireland proved too strong for Macedonia and Belarus respectively.
After the silly protest by Belarus was thrown out - they looked to have the match against Ireland replayed due to the referee booking the wrong player.
As the player was subsequently booked a second time later in the game he was sent off. UEFA decided to throw out their protest but the red card was rescinded.
Ireland went into this game needing a draw as they had the better goal difference
If ever a game was won in the dressing room this was the case. Sean Mc Caffrey made a masterful tactical switch drafting in Darren Dennehy at centre half and moving Eddie Nolan to left full at the expense of Lorcan Fitzgerald.
It was not that Fitzgerald had played badly it was just a case of Nolan extra little bit of pace was to prove to be a match winner.
Making changes never wins a match unless the players perform to the Managers demands on the day and so it was as Ireland outplayed and outmaneuvered a fancied Dutch squad.
Mark my words this was as good a performance as has ever been produced by a team in Green- Holland had reached the European Final at Under 17 and the World final at Under 18 and to be honest Ireland made them look a second class team.
From the kick off Ireland attacked and forced Holland to retreat. Keith Treacy was at his brilliant best as he tormented the Dutch defence.
Ireland deservedly took the lead after Keith Treacy played in free kick from the edge of the box which Adam Rooney headed across goal but the Dutch keeper Erwin Mulder got down well and put it out for a corner.
Treacy took the corner and Eddie Nolan got his head to the cross and Darren Dennehy got his long legs to the ball to slot home for the opening goal and his first ever goal for Ireland.
This will surely be a moment to savor for the big man.
Ireland now played with increased confidence and continued to keep Holland under pressure.
Ireland were unlucky not to go further in front when Eddie Nolan had a long range shot well saved by keeper Mulder which was diverted for a corner.
Ireland got their deserved second after 37 minutes when Alan Power played in form striker Adam Rooney on the edge of the box; he swiveled and shot home for his fifth goal in 3 games – 14 goals in 11 internationals.
Ireland came under pressure for the last five minutes of the first half and Stephen Henderson proved his worth with a full length save to deny Melvin Zaalman.
Dennehy popped up at the right moment as he took a shot destined for the net from Vurnon Anita off the line.
The half time whistle came as a relief to the Irish team allowing Sean Mc Caffrey got his squad into the dressing room.
The Irish started the second half in the same vein but Holland were unable to respond.
Both sides created chances in the remainder of the game but this was a win for a masterful Irish squad – not team as every player played his part.
Sean Mc Caffrey was a happy man at the end of the day “ It is always nice to beat Holland – we were magnificent every player played his part. We may have got the tactics right but we are only as good as the players carry out the instructions. That’s the second year in a row that we have now qualified topping our group”
Sean was particularly impressed by the Dutch “ Time will prove that this is a very good Dutch side- they have fine players in Vurnon, Jeffrey, Melvin – these are names for the future and I am a happy man after this win”
Sean was probably being a little modest as this is the seventh time out of seven that Sean Mc Caffrey has qualified for the Elite round of the UEFA Championships. He is still waiting for the big breakthrough to qualify for the final rounds but this has become much more difficult since UEFA have reduced the final squad to only 8 teams.
The week ended on a great note when Adam Rooney deservedly was named player of the Tournament and was presented with the match ball for his hat trick against Belarus.
Ireland: Henderson, Madden, Dennehy, Spillane, Nolan, Judge, Gleeson, Power , Bayley, Rooney, Treacy
Subs: Jackson for Treacy 67mins, Redmond for Henderson 82 mins, Cassidy for Power 85 mins