17.03.2017 at 15:15 Paphiakos Stadium, Paphos
0 - 1
Rep of Ireland
Referee: Aleksei Matyunin
EC Elite Round-match
Lee O Connor
Glen Mc Auley
Kmet for Davidik 72 mins
Filipiak for Machara 77 mins,
Čerňanský for Gerebenits 80+1 mins,
Martin Murcko 27 mins
Roland Gerebenits 56 mins,
Glen Mc Auley (59)
McAuley winner sends U17s to UEFA Finals
The Republic of Ireland Under 17 side secured their qualification for the UEFA U17 Championships Finals with a game to spare after securing a 1-0 win over Slovakia in Paphos, Cyprus, today.
Glen McAuley’s 66th minute winner sealer the three points for the Irish and they are guaranteed a top two spot due to hosts Cyprus being held to a scoreless draw by Faroe Islands in the group’s other fixture today.
Colin O’Brien’s side will secure one of the best runner-up spots at the very least regardless of how they fare in their final group game against the Cypriots on Monday and the Irish boss is rightly proud of how his side has performed.
Slovakia beat Cyprus 2-1 on the opening day so were a tough opponent for O’Brien’s youngsters but Liverpool striker McAuley proved the difference with 14 minutes left.
Rowan Roache forced the game’s first save in the 12th minute that tested Slovak keeper Martin Trnovský and just over a minute later Aaron Connolly also forced a save from the keeper.
Blackpool winger Roache tested Trnovský once more in the 20th minute and once again it was the same pair involved in the 40th minute when the Slovak keeper kept out a Roache attempt to leave the sides scoreless at the break.
Ireland keeper Brian Maher proved his quality early in the second half to keep out efforts from Roland Gerebenits in the 52nd minute and an attempt by Denis Potoma after a Dávid Machara corner sixty seconds later.
Trnovský made another save to deny McAuley in the 56th minute then a minute later Adam Idah struck an upright with a shot from distance but ten minutes later former St Joseph’s Boys front man McAuley steered the ball home after an Irish counter-attack.
Although Slovakia pushed hard for an equaliser Ireland could have added a second goal in the 78th minute but the keeper kept out an Aaron Connolly effort.
“It was a tough game. We had chances and and Adam Idah hit the post with a strike from outside the box but we also had to rely upon our keeper Brian Maher making two very good saves,” said O’Brien.
“In the second half Glen McAuley did well to get behind their defence and finish well and we did what was required to see the game out. I felt we deserved the win on the day.
“Throughout the season we’ve been tried to educate them on the functions of the game and on top of that looking at how to address tournament play. It stood to us.
“It was a completely different type of game to the other day against the Faroes and we showed we could adapt.
“We deserve this as a group. The players especially deserve this, there’s great willingness to learn and they’ve worked so hard with all of the staff to keep developing as a team.
“People in the game back home, especially involved in the youth game, know there is a lot of good work going on. There’s a lot of talent in the country and the national team doing well shows we’re doing something right with our methods.
“It must be said that there is a lot going on around the country. Coach Education has improved so much in recent years. It’s a great day for everybody who has worked with the players since their earliest days, they began the development and we’ve added our bit onto that.
“Today is about celebrating a very good achievement. They’ll never forget this St Patrick’s Day and it’s a great occasion for their families and friends.
“They’ll recover tomorrow and Sunday we’ll prepare for the Cyprus game and we want to top the group if we can.”
Republic of Ireland: Maher, O'Connor, Ledwidge, Doherty, Collins, Bolger, McAuley, Coventry, Roache, Idah, Connolly.
Slovakia: Trnovský, Kozák, Mišenko, Pišoja, Machara (Filipiak 77), Potoma, Gerebenits (Čerňanský 80+1), Murcko, Martišiak, Dávidík (Kmeť 72), Strachan.
RESULTS & FIXTURES
Wednesday, 15 March: Republic of Ireland 4-0 Faroe Islands, Paphos
Friday, 17 March: Republic of Ireland 1-0 Slovakia, Paphiakos Stadium, Paphos
Monday, 20 March: Republic of Ireland v Cyprus, Kouklia Community Stadium, Paphos (CYP), KO 13:00