THE Republic of Ireland U16 side maintained their impressive start to the Victory Shield when they beat Northern Ireland at Oriam in Edinburgh this afternoon.
1st Nov 2016
Paul Osam’s side followed up their 4-0 win over Wales on Sunday with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals in either half from Kameron Ledwidge and Barry Coffey.
Marc Walsh looked dangerous from the off and the Finn Harps winger curled narrowly wide in the ninth minute after spotting the Northern Ireland keeper off his line.
Walsh then played a role in the opening goal in the 28th minute when he cut the ball back to Sean Brennan from a right wing free-kick. The Northern Ireland defence got in a muddle dealing with Brennan’s delivery and Ledwidge was well placed to slot the ball into the unguarded net.
Tyriek Wright was unlucky to see a powerful effort blocked down by a Northern Ireland defender in the 33rd minute when Ciaran Brennan nodded the ball down from another right wing cross by Walsh.
Northern Ireland came close to grabbing a dramatic equaliser just before half-time with a long range effort from Jordan McEneff rattled Harry Clarke’s crossbar.
Sean Brennan was unlucky not to extend the Irish lead in the 54th minute when he flashed a strike across the face of the Northern Ireland goal.
Less than a minute later it was 2-0 when Coffey robbed the ball in midfield then burst through the Northern Ireland defence before flicking the ball past the advancing keeper for a fine individual goal.
Coffey turned provider for Wright in the 62nd minute but the striker’s effort was deflected narrowly wide. From the resulting corner Sean Brennan took possession and crossed for Coffey to head goal-wards but keeper Paul McLaughlin saved.
Harry Clarke showed his quality when he brilliantly parried a powerful volley from Ethan Galbraith in the 66th minute and 60 seconds later Clarke was extended by a long range blast from the same player and saved once more.
Northern Ireland pulled one back in the 81st minute after a short corner routine saw Caolan McLaughlin head home at the back post but Osam’s side held on to make it six points from their opening two games.
"It was a good win. It was a different kind of game to the Wales match and maybe the performance level wasn't the same as against Wales but we made eight changes to the starting line-up and that's part of this process too," said Osam.
"We knew Northern Ireland would be fired up and flying into tackles and that's how it started. We coped well with the early pressure and then we got a bit of a foothold. We got a goal and from then got a decent hold of the rest of the first half.
"With the staff, we work on the players' development and their tactical awareness - managing games, keep doing the things that got you where you are rather than going down the route of making flicks and tricks for no good purpose. The best players know to keep their discipline in terms of game management.
"We may have allowed them to get back into the game and we would have liked to keep a clean sheet but in fairness to Northern Ireland they kept battling away.
"Getting the win was very good for our players' confidence. We've used all 22 players in the squad now so we'll prepare for Friday's game against Scotland."
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Harry Clarke, Ray O‘Sullivan, Kevin O’Reilly, Mark McGuinness, Kameron Ledwidge, Sean Brennan, Adam O’Reilly, Sean Mahon, Marc Walsh, Ciaran Brennan, Tyriek Wright. Subs: Barry Coffey for Mahon 52 mins; Adam Idah for C Brennan 52; Callum Thompson for Walsh 52; Conor O’Reilly for O’Sullivan 71.
Victory Shield U16 Tournament
Sunday, October 30
Scotland 2-0 Northern Ireland, Oriam, Edinburgh
Wales 0-4 Republic of Ireland, Oriam, Edinburgh
Tuesday, November 1
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Northern Ireland, Oriam, Edinburgh
Scotland v Wales, Oriam, Edinburgh (4pm)
Friday, November 4
Northern Ireland v Wales, Oriam, Edinburgh (12.30pm)
Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Oriam, Edinburgh (3.30pm)