U-17s set up do-or-die clash with Poland for Euro qualification
Ireland 3 Montenegro 0 U-17 UEFA Elite qualifier
Published 31/03/2016 | 02:30
Ireland will qualify for a second successive U-17 European Championship finals if they beat mini-group hosts Poland on Saturday.
Ambitions of participating at the Azerbaijan showpiece in May returned yesterday following a comprehensive victory over bottom seeds Montenegro.
Unlike the smaller U-19 finals, where only the winner of the group advances to the finals, Ireland's opening defeat to Serbia on Monday didn't prove fatal.
At the end of a tense first-half, Jayson Molumby broke the deadlock with an injury-time goal. Strikes after the break by substitute Stephen Mallon and Thomas Byrne reflected Ireland's dominance.
As Serbia beat Poland 2-1 last night to seal first place with Saturday's final game to spare, the second qualifying berth is a straight shoot-out between Ireland and the Poles in Pruszkow.
"It is not just the result that pleased me," said Tom Mohan afterwards.
"The performance was very pleasing. It was good to play on a decent pitch that suited our style of play and the boys showed great courage and skill. We were patient and were dominant in possession."
"Montenegro were a big, physical, outfit and we had to deal with a lot of long balls that they played and I was pleased with how we defended.
"We did well in attacking areas and probably could have scored some more goals."
The first arrived courtesy of Glen McAuley's cross which allowed Brighton midfielder Molumby to finish.
Mallon, who defected from Northern Ireland earlier in the season, was only four minutes on the pitch before adding a second on 71 minutes.
Thomas Byrne scored a third a minute from the end but he will miss the weekend decider after incurring a second booking of the campaign.
IRELAND - M Travers (Unattached); D McKenna (Wolves), D Rice (West Ham), D O'Shea (West Brom), T Wilson (Manchester City); L O'Connor (Villa, Waterford), J Molumby (Brighton), T O'Connor (Southampton), R O'Sullivan (Brighton); G McAuley (Liverpool), T Byrne (Brighton).
Subs: A Scully (West Ham) for McAuley (53), S Mallon (Sheffield Utd) for O'Sullivan (67).