UEFA U17 First Phase Qualifier
Republic of Ireland 3 Ukraine 1
Hourihane 34 Kartvshov 29
The Republic of Ireland are on course to progress into the Elite phase of the UEFA qualifiers following tonight’s deserved victory over Ukraine at Terryland Park.
Ukraine stormed into the lead after 29 minutes but the Irish recovered and accomplished their mission of collecting three valuable points in their bid to reach next year’s second stage of the qualification process.
Conor Hourihane drew Ireland level after 35 minutes and a goal each from Karl Sheppard and Gavin Gunning in the second half rounded off a splendid display by Sean McCaffrey’s side.
This was the start to the qualifying campaign Ireland needed. Aside from when Ireland trailed for a brief spell, they assumed control of the match and were worthy of claiming the win in front of a strong home support in Galway.
Although he did not find the back of the net, Irish striker Greg Cunningham was instrumental in the outcome of the match. He led the attack extremely well and can count himself unlucky not to be scored from openings which fell his way in either half.
Paul Murphy, too, was a threat to Ukraine. The Ipswich Town marksman was restricted to shots from distance, the best of them coming early in the second half with an effort 30 yards from goal that the goalkeeper did well to gather.
Ireland are next in action play when they meet Denmark on Sunday at Lissywoolen Stadium, Athlone (7pm) before the last task in the pool sees them face Slovenia next Wednesday, September 19th at Flancare Park in Longford (7pm).
A 1-1 draw between Denmark and Slovenia played out earlier today meant the opportunity arose for Ireland to make an early mark on their qualification prospects.
Another three points against the Danes would assure Ireland of progress into the next stage.
John Dunleavy came close to giving Ireland the lead on eight minutes when he headed over a right-wing corner delivered from Aaron Doran.
Striker Murphy brought the best out of visiting goalkeeper Sytnikov a minute later when the net-minder dived low to keep a shot from from 20 yards out.
Ukraine snatched the lead on 29 minutes – Kartvshov curling a low shot past Irish goalkeeper Ger Hanley after Prychynenko picked him out in the box with a pass.
Ireland were back on level terms five minutes later. A long free-kick into the penalty area by Richie Towell was missed by Gavin Gunning but there to smash a left-foot half volley high into the roof if the net was Conor Hourihane from the left side of the box.
That goal gave the Irish momentum and they polished off an excellent second half performance by scoring twice.
Substitute Karl Sheppard put his imprint on the match within three minutes of his coming on after 69 minutes. Hourihane found the Everton striker in space with a threaded pass and he coolly tucked a shot low into the net from the edge of the box past the despairing goalkeeper.
Gavin Gunning made sure of the points by adding a third goal for Ireland three minutes later. He headed powerfully into the net from close range following a free-kick sent into the penalty area by his Blackburn Rovers colleague Aaron Doran.
Republic of Ireland Under-17:
Gerard Hanley – Salthill Devon
Padraig Orsmby – Crumlin United
John Dunleavy – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Mark Connolly – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Gavin Gunning – Blackburn Rovers
Richard Towell – Celtic
Aaron Doran – Blackburn Rovers
Conor Hourihane – Sunderland
Greg Cunningham – Manchester City
Conor Clifford – Chelsea
Paul Murphy – Ipswich Town
Karl Sheppard – Everton for Murphy (69 mins)
David Heagney – Huddersfield Town for Hourihane (79 mins)
Ukraine: Sytnikov, Prylepov, Kryvtsov, Vorobyey, Prychynenko, Chaikavskyi, Turchanov (Sokol 63), Pidchenko (Sylantyev 46), Kartvshov, Zadoya (Sklyar 70), Zagynaylov.