Under 17s miss out
The Republic of Ireland Under 17s are out of the UEFA Championships after a heartbreaking 3-1 defeat by England at the Bescott Stadium, Walsall, on Wednesday night.
Needing a two-goal victory to qualify for the summerís finals, Ireland played well but could not find a way through until too late in the game by which time England were already cruising to victory.
A five-minute blitz of goals by England early in the second half killed the game off with Hogan Ephraim and Theo Walcott putting England 2-0 up despite having Mark Davies sent off in between.
Ireland defender Michael Spillane was dismissed late on to add to Irelandís woes before a James Ryan 30-yard strike put Ireland within one goal of England.
However, the home side restored their two-goal advantage when substitute James Vaughan grabbed an injury time third goals.
Republic of Ireland: Henderson (Aston Villa); Davies (Reading), Nolan (Blackburn Rovers), Spillane (Norwich City), Quigley (Stoke City), Ryan (Liverpool), Gleeson (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Hickie (Crystal Palace), Judge (Blackburn Rovers), Stokes (Arsenal), Treacy (Blackburn Rovers).
Subs: Kiely (Cherry Orchard) for Hickie (71 mins), OíShea (Tramore) for Gleeson (79 mins).
England kept up their record of qualifying for every UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals thanks to victory against the only team that could pip them in Elite round Group 2, the Republic of Ireland.
With group hosts England three points ahead before today having won their previous qualifiers against Serbia and Montenegro and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland needed a victory to have any chance of making May's finals in Italy having defeated their northern neighbours but lost on Monday to the Serbo-Montenegrins.
Irish goalkeeper Stephen Henderson stook strong in the first period to keep the scores level, but two minutes into the second half, Hogan Ephraim turned in Theo Walcott's cross after a well-worked free-kick move for England. Four minutes later, Mark Davies was shown a red card, his second booking coming for encroachment, but England were not knocked off their stride and in a swift counterattack, Walcott turned in a ball from Myles Weston on the left.
Four minutes from the end, Michael Spillane was dismissed for Ireland as he brought down Walcott when through on goal, and England extended the lead in added time through substitute James Vaughan - scoring his second goal in his second international appearance two days after his first. James Ryan struck a long-range consolation in the dying seconds, but Serbia and Montenegro's 6-1 victory against Northern Ireland in today's other game left Sean McCaffrey's side third in the group.
The English Football Association's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking told TheFA.com: "The Under-17s have had a superb record over the past few years. John Peacock prepares his side very well and I have high hopes for them in May's finals in Italy."
Teams Pld W D L GF GA Pts
England 3 3 0 0 9 2 9
Serbia and Montenegro 3 2 0 1 9 5 6
Republic of Ireland 3 1 0 2 4 6 3
Northern Ireland 3 0 0 3 2 11 0