Republic of Ireland 4-0 Hungary
The Irish under-17s reserved their best performance till the last group game in the eight-team tournament in Hungary, hammering the hosts on Saturday to set up a final meeting with the Czech Republic this afternoon (Sunday).
The Irish side, led by Brian Kerr’s regular second-in-command at this level down through the years, Noel O’Reilly, went into the game at the top of the group, but knowing that had to win to seal a place in the final of the tournament.
And that they did, with the minimum of fuss, Billy Clarke and Ross Gaynor each grabbing a brace to send the jubilant Irish youngsters into yet another European decider.
Clark - still on the books of Maymount Celtic - was the undisputed star of the first half, netting two exceptional strikes to leave his side coasting.
He fired a brilliant bicycle kick to the Hungary net from just inside the area, after the ball had spun into the air when his initial shot was blocked.
And soon after he showed his abundant pace to outstrip the home defence from inside his own half and slide the ball to the net for the second.
And Gaynor, into the side instead of Shelbourne starlet Anthony Stokes, who scored three goals in the first two games, also made his presence felt, making it 3-0 just before the break and adding a fourth in the second half with an excellent strike from outside the area.
Republic of Ireland under-17s: Supple (Ipswich Town), McMahon (Home Farm), Gibson (Manchester United), O’Dea (Celtic), Gallagher (Gweedore Celtic), S Kelly (Kingdom Boys), Morris (Leeds United), JP Kelly (Liverpool), Bracken (Lourdes Celtic), Gaynor (Millwall), Clark (Maymount).
Subs: Reilly (Shelbourne), Synott (Ipswich Town), Hayes (Reading), Flynn (Lifford Oldtown), Keane (Belvedere).