UEFA U19 CHAMPIONSHIP ELITE QUALIFIER
Republic of Ireland 3 – 0 Bulgaria
Rooney 3, 6, 16
Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey requested beforehand that his team utilise their attacking threat and that they did with a devastating exhibition of finishing in the first-half.
Adam Rooney scored three times inside the first sixteen minutes of this UEFA Elite qualifier and Ireland had enough chances in the rest of the game to have doubled their winning margin.
Stoke City striker Rooney enhanced his incredible scoring record at international level by netting a first half hat-trick to give Ireland a 3-0 advantage at the break. Ireland completely dominated the opening 45 minutes with Rooney the star performer with a master-class of clinical finishing.
The Dubliner has now averaged a goal a game in his 19 appearances for Ireland over the past two years.
Ireland’s victory tonight lifted them to the top of the Elite qualification table with one series of games completed. This follows the scoreless draw played out between the other two group opponents, Germany and Hungary, at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray this afternoon.
Ireland now face Germany on Wednesday in a crucial second match of their mini-group. They will have to play that game without their combative midfielder, Robert Bayly, who is suspended after picking up a yellow card tonight - his second of the qualifying campaign.
Goalkeeper Stephen Henderson could also be absent for the German encounter as he was forced to be substituted tonight 13 minutes from full-time with a head injury.
Rooney got Ireland off to a glorious start within three minutes when he tapped home the opener at the back post. The goal arrived in somewhat fortuitous circumstances as it was Bulgarian defender Damyanov who gave him an open goal to fire into when he cut out a dribbling run by Anthony Stokes straight into the Rooney’s path.
Ireland were awarded a penalty two minutes later when Stokes was brought down in the box by Ivanov. Robert Bayly’s spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Mihaylov but there reacting quickest to volley home the rebound from eight yards was Rooney.
His hat-trick goal was the most impressive of the trio. Striker partner Stokes stepped over Alan Power's delivery into the edge of the penalty area where Rooney was lurking and in a quick movement, he swivelled before drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner.
Sean McCaffrey’s side created lots of chances after the break with Stokes and Rooney causing the Bulgarians endless problems.
Rooney eluded his marker in the 73rd minute to leave him with a clear run on goal but Mihaylov smothered his from close-range shot.
Only the winners only of the mini-group will progress to the finals of the UEFA U19 Championships in Austria during July. Ireland have got their challenge off to the best possible start and a similar display against Germany would please all concerned.
The remaining fixtures in the group are listed at the foot of this report.
IRELAND: Stephen Henderson (Aston Villa) – Shane Redmond (Nottingham Forest) – 77 mins, Scott Davies (Reading) – Simon Madden (Leeds United) – 53 mins, Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Michael Spillane (Norwich City), Eddie Nolan (Blackburn Rovers) - captain, Alan Judge (Blackburn Rovers), James Ryan (Liverpool), Alan Power (Nottingham Forest), Robert Bayly (Leeds United), Anthony Stokes (Sunderland) – Keith Treacy (Blackburn Rovers) – 83 mins, Adam Rooney (Stoke City).
BULGARIA: Mihaylov, Damyanov, Ivanov, Vasilev, Dyulgerov (Pavlov 36), Baltanov, Ognyanov, Illiev (Yordanov 76), Hristov (Abrashav 29 mins), Lemerov, Filipov.
Referee: B. Duartepaixao (Portugal)
RESULTS AND FIXTURES:
Today: Hungary 0 – 0 Germany, Carlisle Grounds Bray 2.30 p.m
Republic of Ireland 3 – 0 Bulgaria, United Park Drogheda 7.00 p.m.
Wednesday 16/05/07: Hungary v Bulgaria, Belfield Park 2.30 p.m.
Germany v Republic of Ireland, Dalymount Park 7.00 p.m.
Saturday, 19/05/07: Republic of Ireland v Hungary, United Park Drogheda 7.00 p.m.
Bulgaria v Germany, Belfield Park 7.00 p.m.
A first-half hat-trick from Adam Rooney gave Group 1 hosts Republic of Ireland a winning start to their Elite round campaign as Sean McCaffrey's side continued their bid to reach the UEFA European Under-19 Championship with a dominant display in Drogheda.
The Stoke City FC forward found the net three times in the opening 20 minutes at United Park and has now scored 19 goals in as many U19 appearances over the past two years. Rooney opened the scoring in the third minute, tapping in from close range after good work from Anthony Stokes, who was also the provider for the second goal two minutes later. Stokes was fouled by Ivan Ivanov and, although Nikolay Mihaylov kept out Robert Bayly's resulting penalty, the rebound fell perfectly for Rooney to slam in.
The points were effectively sealed before half-time as Jimmy Ryan's pass reached Rooney on the edge of the area and the striker duly capitalised, spinning and drilling a low shot into the corner of the net. Ireland lost goalkeeper Stephen Henderson late on to a head injury, but will nevertheless go into their second game, against Germany on Wednesday, in fine fettle. Bulgaria, meanwhile, must look to bounce back against Hungary, who drew 0-0 with the Germans today.