Slovakia 1-2 Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland U19 squad brought an intensive week of training to a great finish when they defeated Slovakia in the second of two friendly matches in Bratislava.
Ireland drew with Slovakia on Tuesday 1-1 and they showed a marked improvement when they dominated Slovakia for long periods to run out deserving winners second time out.
The Irish management team, led by Sean McCaffrey, put the squad through a busy week’s training and preparation in beautiful conditions – the match was played in temperatures as high as 23 degrees – and all of the players in the squad were given game time.
Ireland welcomed the opportunity of getting the squad together for they will contest the second qualifying phase of the 2009 UEFA U19 Championship in Belgium from June 5th to 10th next.
In Ireland’s group are Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden and the winners of that group will advance to the UEFA Championship final tournament in the Ukraine in July 2009.
The assistant to coach Sean McCaffrey is Tommy Connolly and he reviewed Ireland’s success in Bratislava with the comment: “It was a really great performance and the team moved on considerably from Tuesday.
“Slovakia are very strong – their U21 beat Italy 4-0 this week and their seniors gave England a big match. Ireland have a young group of players here – ten of the players on duty on Tuesday are eligible again next year and today we had seven in the team and they played superbly.
“We deserved to take the lead and after they equalised we came back again strongly and it would have been an in justice had we not won it.”
Ireland took the lead in the 30th minute when Ronan Murray bravely scored. He ran through on to a pass from Conor Hourihane, drove the ball against the goalkeeper as he threw himself in the Irishman’s path and then jumped to head the rebound in.
Slovakia drew level early in the second half and Ireland applied themselves with diligence and their persistence paid off with a goal from Damien McCrory in the 86th minute after a good move on the left wing involving Conor Clifford and substitute Gavin Gunning.
Republic of Ireland: Harry Lee, Callum O’Connor, Daminen McCrory, Mark Connolly, Callum Morris, Gearoid Morrissey, Conor Hourihane, Robbie Brady, Aaron Doran, Conor Clifford, Ronan Murray.
Subs: Gavin Gunning for Brady 86, Danny Kelly for Connolly 46