Republic of Ireland 4-2 Israel
The Republic of Ireland under-17 side moved a step closer claiming victory in the eight-team Hungary tournament when they produced an excellent second half performance to oust Israel in the competition’s second game on Thursday evening.
Noel O’Reilly’s charges go into the weekend’s final round of group games in an excellent position to qualify for a further match, as Slovakia and Hungary shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in yesterday’s other game.
Should Ireland maintain their grip at the top of the group, they would go into Sunday’s final, where they would meet either Croatia, Poland, the Czech Republic or Serbia/Montenegro.
Ireland were the brighter side from the off, and led twice in the first half but were pegged back on both occasions to leave the scores tied at 2-2 at the break.
Leeds United youngster Ian Morris netted from the penalty spot to open the scoring in the 23rd minute, and after Israel equalised, Liverpool’s John Paul Kelly put the boys in green ahead once more with an excellent finish from 18 yards only for more slack defending allowed their opponents in for another leveller just before half-time.
However, Ireland were a much more solid outfit in the second half, in which they dominated much of the possession and deservedly took the lead through substitute Jonathan Hayes, the Reading trainee providing a composed finish after being put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Shelbourne starlet Anthony Stokes made certain of the victory a minute from time with his third goal of the tournament, to leave this Irish squad within reach of another underage title.
O’Reilly has given 17 of his 18-man squad a run in the two games to date, the only member of the party not to have played a game being Stoke City goalkeeper Robert Duggan, who is carrying a knock.
Rep of Ireland: Supple (Ipswich Town), Synott (Ipswich Town), Keane (Belvedere), O’Dea (Celtic), Reilly (Shelbourne), Morris (Leeds United), Gibson (Manchester United), J.P. Kelly (Liverpool), Gallagher (Gweedore Celtic), Clarke (Maymount), Stokes (Shelbourne).
Subs: Hayes (Reading), S. Kelly (Kingdom Boys), Bracken (Lourdes Celtic), Flynn (Lifford-Oldtown), Gaynor (Millwall).