20.10.2005 at 19:00 Turners Cross
Rep of Ireland Under 19
4 - 1
Referee: R Malek (Poland)
Jon P Kelly
Candreva 44 mins,
Fredi 86 mins,
The Republic of Irelands comprehensive win over Italy on a water logged pitch in Turners Cross spoke volumes for the depth of courage, resilience and skill within the squad.
Ireland completed the first phase qualifying tournament of the UEFA Under 19 Championship with a swagger and a degree of style scarcely imaginable given the conditions.
Continuous driving rain from the half time break made the surface treacherous and rendered football a lottery. The pools of water that lodged on the pitch in the closing half hour were such that the referee would have been justified in abandoning the game.
The pity of it was that the deteriorating conditions interrupted an Irish show of strength that was quite remarkable. Their football in the opening half was compelling, played at a tempo and with such accuracy that Italy were overwhelmed.
Ireland harvested three goals in the opening 40 minutes that effectively decided the game as a contest. It was impossible, of course, to maintain this standard as the rain poured down and the surface water made the pitch increasingly more treacherous.
It was significant however that Ireland were very much in the ascendancy again and when the final whistle blew after they had a contained a second half rally from Italy.
Ireland’s spirit was exemplified by the attitude of their Centre Back Edward Nolan for he was in Italy’s penalty area to fire home the fourth from John Paul Kelly’s right wing corner in the 85th minute when one would have expected him to be holding his position in defence with Ireland leading 3-1 and just five minutes left to play.
But this team is not about playing safety- first football with caution. They played all week in their victories over Northern Ireland, Moldova and now Italy with verve and a spirit of adventure that reflected the attitude of players possessed of a wholesome competitive attitude and skill to match.
There were some remarkable individual performances and one is loathe to delve too deeply into this element of the game, so uniformly good were Ireland and so smooth and admirable their team work.
Yet it is impossible to review the game without reference to centre forward Anthony Stokes. The fact that he finished without a goal told a sorry for he was at the heart of all that was good in Ireland’s play. His unselfish distribution captured the spirit within the group admirably and that is the principal reason why his contribution is emphasized.
Billy Clarke was in lively form in front of his home town supporters and he claimed the first two goals in the 19th and 23rd minutes. Stokes being heavily involved on both occasions.
Darren Gibson claimed the third when he won a tackle in midfield and drove into the penalty area before chipping a ball that took a deflection off a defender as it looped over the goalkeeper and dropped under the bar.
Italy’s goal came in bizarre circumstances in the 55th Minute. Edward Nolan turned to roll a ball back to goalkeeper Darren Randolph from 25 yards. The ball stuck in a pool just two yards away from him and Alessio Cerci raced on before hammering it home.
The game ended on a sour note when Italy’s substitute Massimiliano Marsili was shown a second yellow card and the inevitable red one in the final minute. He was on the pitch for less that 30 minutes.
Ireland: Randolph (Charlton ATH) Kelly (Arsenal) Nolan (Blackburn Rovers) O’Dea (Glasgow Celtic) Stapleton (Reading) JP Kelly (Bohs) Gibson (Man Utd), Morris (Leeds Utd), Hayes (Reading), Stokes (Arsenal) Clarke (Ipswich Town),
Subs: O’Brien (Glasgoe Celtic) for Clarke 72, Chambers (Shels) for Hayes 76, O’Carroll (Glasgow Celtic) for Stokes 86
Italy: Consigli (Atlanta Berg), Ungaro (Reggina), Rinaldi (Udinese), Freddi (Roam), Rossi (Parma), Semenzato (Inter Milan), Dessena (Parma), Prevete (Empoli), Candreva (Ternana), Savi (Parma), Momente (Inter Mila),
Subs: Cerci (Roma), for Semenzato 30 min. Lupoli(Arsenal) for Momente 57 min; Marsili (Roam) for Candreva 63