19.05.2003 at 19:30 Tolka Park
Rep of Ireland Under 19
0 - 1
Referee: Per Ivar Staberg (NOR)
European Qualifier / PROG-match
Ciaran Donnelly 72 mins,
Paul Murphy (gk)
Rep. Ireland 0-1 England
UEFA European Under-19 Championships
Second Qualifying Stage, Group 4
Tolka Park, Dublin
Monday 19th May 2003
Englands Under 19s started phase two of their qualification campaign for the European Championships where they left off in Novembers first group, beating mini-tournament hosts, Ireland, 1-0 in Dublin.
In an end-to-end game both teams worked hard in the first half but decent chances were few and far between. The opportunities that were created were dealt with effectively by both sets of defenders.
Some of Englands players were in the unusual position of playing against their club teammates with all of Irelands starting-11 playing in the English leagues.
The nil-nil scoreline at half time was a fair assessment of the first half with neither team really stamping their authority on the match, leaving the second half wide open and there for the taking.
Both teams came out fired up for the second half which started brightly and with both teams pushing forward for that first goal the pace quickened and chances were created.
Tommy Wright had a shot cleared off the line and was unlucky with a header going just wide. Man Citys pacy midfielder Lee Croft looked sharp and caused problems in the centre with his darting forward runs while Englands defence looked solid, the centre-backs in particular making it difficult for Ireland to create too many chances. Strapping goalkeeper Luke Steele dealt flawlessly with everything that came his way and never really looking like anything would get past him.
On 60 minutes frustrations began to show leading to the only booking in the match with Irelands no. 8, Bradley from Arsenal, getting his name in the book.
On 72 minutes Englands persistence was rewarded with a goal from Ciaran Donnelly. Captain John Welsh whipped in a curling free kick towards the far post, Tommy Wright out-jumped his defender and headed the ball down into a space in the penalty area where Donnelly pounced on the ball and took his opportunity to drill the ball home and not even the keepers leg could stop the ball ending up in the back of the net.
The Irish came back strong leading to a tense last 15 minutes, the home crowd trying to push their team on but time was running out. In injury time England made their only substitution allowing Stewart Downing to make way for Marcel McKie. McKie had only a matter of minutes on the pitch before the final whistle went and England secured a very important win. England were made to work hard for their win but it was a deserved 3 points.
Over six and half thousand braved the weather to come show and their support but it was the handful of England fans who were the ones that went away happy.
After the match, England coach Stuart Baxter said "It is always good to start a tournament with a win, especially against the host nation and traditional rivals. With a difficult pitch and difficult opponents the lads had to work very hard and showed excellent character.
However, it is only the first step and there is still a long way to go"
Englands next match is on Wednesday against Slovenia, kick off 2.30pm. The result of Mondays other match in the tournament was Switzerland 1 Slovenia 2.
England: Steele, Hoyte, Whittingham, Welsh, Davies, Ridgewell, Routledge, Donnelly, Wright, Croft, Downing
Goals: Donnelly 72
Rep of Ireland: Murphy, Deery, Brennan, Fitzgerald, Whelan, Flood, Bradley, Elliott, Keegan, Ennis, Quigley.