Ballymena Tournament Final:
Republic of Ireland U16 3 - 0 Northern Ireland U16
Gerard Kinsella 41
Jay Wallace 49
Karl Sheppard 64
Vincent Butler’s team rocked the tournament hosts with three second half goals to conclude a week which saw them also inflict defeats upon the Czech Republic and the USA as well as claiming a vital draw against Scotland.
Following a tense first-half between the two group winners where few openings were created, Ireland snatched the lead within forty seconds of the second half kicking off.
A free-kick was nodded on by John Dunleavy and following in at the back-post it was Gerard Wallace who directed the ball into the net with a diving header.
His Everton colleague, Jay Wallace, made it 2-0 eight minutes later by supplying another headed goal, this time from a corner which the hosts failed to deal with.
Ireland’s third goal was sourced through another set-piece - Aaron Doran’s corner finding it’s way across the penalty area for Shelbourne striker Karl Sheppard to poke the ball in from close range.
Ireland manager Vincent Butler paid tribute to his players in the wake of their title win. Tonight’s final was the last of 17 fixtures played by the team over the course of the past eight months.
“This success was the culmination of a season long of hard work,” said Butler. “We have really enjoyed the week of football at Ballymena and the performance of the team will boost their confidence as they look towards preparing for next season’s UEFA Under-17 qualifying series under manager Sean McCaffrey.”
The first phase of next season’s UEFA Under-17 qualifiers will be staged in Ireland during September when Ukraine, Denmark and Slovenia will compete with the Irish for the top two qualifying places on offer for the second qualifying, Elite phase of the competition.
Republic of Ireland team:
Harry Lee - Charlton Athletic
Richie Towell - Crumlin United
John Dunleavy – Ballybofey United
Niall Byrne - Home Farm
Conor Hourihane – Douglas Hall
Aaron Doran – Blackburn Rovers
Conor Clifford – Crumlin United
Gerard Kinsella - Everton
Jay Wallace - Everton
Greg Cunningham – Mervue United
Karl Sheppard - Shelbourne
Jason Hughes (Geraldines), David Heagney (Huddersfield) and Paul Corry (Belvedere) for Wallace, Sheppard and Cunningham (All 72 mins).
Mark Connolly (Monaghan Utd), Chris Oldfield (Liverpool) and Neil Harney (Belvedere) for Byrne, Lee and Kinsella (All 79 mins).