A second half winner by hosts Northern Ireland sealed them victory tonight in this Under-16 friendly match at Lakeview Park in Loughgall. The home side went ahead only for Robert Brady to equalise before half-time but they regained the lead ten minutes after the break.
Ireland looked brisk from the start but knew they were in for a tough game from a Northern Ireland team which drew 2-2 against England in Blackpool last week.
The North raced into the lead on 25 minutes after they attacked down the flank, crossed into the penalty area and Jamie Douglas tapped home from close range.
The Irish didn’t have long to wait for an equaliser as they restored parity five minutes later. Stephen McDonnell dribbled past two defenders on the right wing and his cross was slammed into the net by the unmarked Robert Brady.
During a match that was evenly contested, it was always likely that the next goal would be decisive and so it proved.
Hesitant play in the Irish defence gave an opening to Northern Ireland midfielder Aaron Burns and he made no mistake with a shot that goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher got a hand to but couldn’t prevent sailing beyond him.
Brady could have scored again for the visitors near the finish to earn a draw but the chance was snuffed out and the home side held out for the win.
Ireland manager Vincent Butler said: “I was pleased with the overall performance from our team and a draw would probably have been a fair result.
“It was a fantastic game of football, played on a splendid surface, and our players will have learnt a lot from playing against such strong opposition.”
Butler will see a second squad of players in action tomorrow night when the teams meet again at Holm Park, Armagh City (7pm).
Republic of Ireland:
Ciaran Gallagher - Castlefinn
Leigh Swords - Belvedere
John Egan - Greenwood
Danny Joyce - Belvedere
Cormac Hegarty - Arsenal
Oliver Kelly - Reading
Stephen McDonnell - Quay Celtic
Shane Murray - Arklow Town
John Gorman - Manchester United
Conor Murphy - St. Kevin’s Boys
Robert Brady - St. Kevin’s Boys
Matt Doherty - Belvedere for Murray (48 mins)
Josh Byrne - Villa for Gallagher (60 mins)
Jordan Philpott - Kilreen Celtic for Kelly (65 mins)
Conor Carberry - St. Kevin’s Boys for Hegarty (67 mins)
Ryan Connolly - Ballyglass for Murphy (72 mins)
U16 Fixtures and Result:
Monday, October 22nd
Lakeview Park, Loughall (7pm)
Northern Ireland 2- 1 Republic Of Ireland
Tuesday, October 23rd
Northern Ireland V Republic Of Ireland
Holm Park, Armagh City (7pm)
Republic of Ireland Squad v Northern Ireland (Tuesday, October 23rd):
Aaron McCarey - Monaghan Utd
Craig Sexton - Belvedere
Daniel Devine - Crumlin United
Sean Skelly - Belvedere
Jeff Hendrick - St. Kevin’s Boys
Anthony Bolger - St. Kevin’s Boys
Stephen Chambers - Shelbourne
Mark O'Brien - Cherry Orchard
Carl McHugh - Dungloe Town
Robert Benson - Athlone Town
Anthony O'Connor - Nu Farm Athletic
George Landais - Millwall
John Disney - Stockport County
Paul McBride - Tottenham Hotspur
Danny Fitzsimons - Millwall
Daryl Horgan - Salthill Devon