REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 5 SAN MARINO 0
Joe Mason scored a brace as the Republic of Ireland Under-19s made no mistake in their opening UEFA Championship first phase qualifier on Friday against mini-group hosts San Marino in Montecchio.
Ireland coped well with the artificial surface along with the challenges of facing a defensively-minded team to begin their qualification with a comprehensive victory.
The pattern of the first-half saw Ireland camped into their opponents half and it took just 17 minutes to unlock the rearguard as Conor Henderson slipped in to notch his first-ever goal for the Irish.
Conor Clifford, Aaron Doran and Joe Mason all went close to extending the lead in the first half but it was Mason who exhibited the killer instinct two minutes from the break by swooping from close range to fire home Henderson's corner.
Ireland continued to pepper the San Marino goal with shots and it was no surprise when on 58 minutes Ireland extended their lead through Mason after Henderson was again central to the build-up.
With the outcome of the game decided and two more matches ahead in the space of five days, Irish manager freshened things up by introducing three substitutes during the remainder of the match.
Jamil Adam of Barnsley, a replacement for Aaron Doran on 65 minutes, took just nine minutes to get on the score-sheet when it made it 3-0 with a clinical finish.
Another of the substitutes, Wexford Youths attacker James Keohane, also showed his qualities up front by rounding off a corner by Stephen McDonnell to leave the goals tally at five.
Ireland got the start to the campaign they wanted and the win sets them up nicely for Sunday's meeting with Albania. Another victory over the Albanians, who lost 0-5 to Italy in the other group game on Friday, would confirm their passage into the elite phase as one of the top two teams in the pool. Ireland are due to face Italy next Wednesday.
REP OF IRELAND: Ger Hanley (Galway United); Richie Towell (Celtic), Gavin Gunning (Blackburn Rovers), Shane McEleney (Derry City), Greg Cunningham (Man City); Aaron Doran (Blackburn Rovers), Conor Clifford (Chelsea), Gearoid Morrissey (Blackburn Rovers), Conor Henderson (Arsenal); Ronan Murray (Ipswich Town), Joe Mason (Plymouth Argyle).
Substitutions: Jamil Adam (Barnsley) for Doran (64 mins), James Keohane (Wexford Youths) for Murray (71 mins) Stephen McDonnell (Celtic) for Henderson (77 mins).
U19 UEFA Championship First Phase Qualifier - San Marino
Friday, November 13
Republic of Ireland 5-0 San Marino
Sunday, November 15
Republic of Ireland v Albania - 17.00hrs, Montecchio
Wednesday, November 18
Republic of Ireland v Italy - 15.00hrs, Serravalle.