Brave Ireland go down fighting against England to exit European Championship at quarter-final stage
Ireland Under-17s 0 England Under-17s 1
Ireland Under-17s are out of the European Championships at the quarter-final stage following a narrow 1-0 defeat against England in Zagreb today.
It was a brave performance from the Irish youngsters who finished the match with 10 men when Aaron Bolger was sent off.
Manchester City's Jadon Sancho got the game's only goal with a wonder from 25 yards early in the first half as Colin O'Brien's men bowed out.
"I’m very proud of all the players and staff,” O'Brien told FAI.ie after the game.
“Everybody played as a team. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew we’d have to concede possession for long periods. England are a high quality team that I expect to go far in this competition.
“Defensively we were far better. Our boys are after getting huge experience from these finals. It’s the furthest Ireland have reached in a long time. We had six players in that squad that are underage again next year that have got huge experience. The older guys go onto the Under 18 side now and I’ve no doubt some will push into the Under 19s. That can only be good for our players going forward for European competitions."
Following a heavy defeat to Germany on Wednesday, the performance of O’Brien’s side against England illustrated the quality within this squad particularly when Joe Redmond was denied an equaliser with eight minutes remaining as his volleyed effort was cleared off the line.
“There is great character in this squad, it’s been there all season,” O’Brien continued.
Sometimes players just need a wake up call and that was the game against Germany without a doubt. Today they showed that by working as a team, by understanding how you have to set up as a team defensively against high quality, what you have to sacrifice. They did that to a man today and we stayed in the game right until the death."
The defeat signalled the end of a 10 game campaign, with Ireland winning seven of those matches to get to the quarter final stage. Overall, O’Brien has been pleased with what the squad has achieved this season.
“We’ve got the maximum out of our season. That was one of the objectives at the start of the year. People might not realise that we’ve got to get out of two qualifying campaigns just to get to the finals and they are very tricky assignments.
“For us to get to a European finals, we are a small nation, we don’t have a huge pick, we have to be realistic when we are playing bigger nations. To get the opportunity to play some of the countries we’ve played in the last couple of weeks has been great for our players’ future and that’s really important.”
IRELAND: Brian Maher, Kameron Ledwidge, Nathan Collins, Luke Nolan, Joe Redmond; Jordan Doherty, Aaron Bolger, Richard O’Farrell (Rowan Roache 66); Callum Thompson, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly.
ENGLAND: Josef Bursik, Timothy Eyoma,Timothy Eyoma, Jonathan Panzo, Lewis Gibson; Phil Foden, George McEachran, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jadon Sancho, Rhian Brewster, Tashan Oakley-Boothe.