Mohan's young guns foiled by woodwork in battling draw
Ireland U-17 0 Holland U-17 0
A game Ireland could have lost heavily. A match they might have won.
UEFA U-17 championship finals
Defensive tenacity earned Tom Mohan’s side a big point from their opening game in Group D in Sozopol, Bulgaria.
The Dutch wasted a host of chances while Ireland ’keeper Caoimhin Kelleher made two terrific saves. Despite that, Ireland might have snatched victory, twice hitting the woodwork late on.
Holland started purposefully with midfielder Carel Eiting bringing a first-rate save with his feet from Kelleher 13 minutes in.
The Dutch remained on top well into the second half with Kelleher making another superb save to push Eiting’s shot onto a post on 58 minutes.
For all their dominance, the woodwork would then twice save the Dutch. First substitute Jamie Aherne’s saw his header tipped onto the crossbar by Justin Bijlow on 77 minutes.
The ball cannoned down onto the goal-line but was adjudged not to have crossed it. Two minutes later, Connor Ronan shaved the outside of a post from a free kick.
In the other game in Group D, defending champions England opened with a 1-0 victory over Italy.
Substitute Marcus Edwards’ strike seven minutes into the second half proved the difference, with Nathan Holland and Ike Ugbo coming closest to making it 2-0 before Italy’s Patrick Cutrone spurned a late chance to equalise.
Ireland face Italy on Sunday before a potential crunch meeting against England three days later.
Republic of Ireland – Kelleher; Hanney, Masterson, Leahy, Lunney; Agyei-Tabi, Levingston (Scully, 70); Ronan; Elbouzedi, Barrett (Aherne, 70), Clarke.
Holland – Bijlow; Troupee, Fosu-Mensah, de Ligt, Van Drongelen; De Wit, Eiting; Peeters (Bijleveld, 60); Fernandez (Grot, 70), Roberta (Malen, 60), Dilrosun.
Ref – D Muntean (Moldova)