Supersub George puts Ireland on 'elite' path
Ireland U-19 3
Russia U-19 1
IRELAND overcame an interval deficit yesterday before securing their passage into the elite qualification stage for the European Championships by beating nine-man Russia in their concluding first-phase qualifier.
Halfway through the second half, Paul Doolin's side were facing elimination from the four-nation pool as mini-group hosts Bulgaria were level against the already-qualified Bosnia and Herzegovina in the other game.
Substitute Paul George supplied the crucial equaliser on 63 minutes and, with their confidence soaring, Ireland strode forward and netted another three minutes later through George Smith.
Just as news filtered through that Bulgaria's hopes of usurping the Irish for the second spot were dashed when Bosnia and Herzegovina retook the lead, Anthony Forde made the game safe for Ireland with a third goal 12 minutes from time.
The result left Russia exiting the tournament without a point from three matches and their frustration boiled over as they lost defenders Aleksandr Manyukov and Denis Kutin to red cards in the final half-hour.
Ireland -- McDermott (Arsenal); Barker (Bohemians), Byrne (Notts Forest), Hoban (Watford), McHugh (Dundalk); G Smith (Southend United), O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), Garmston (West Brom); Murray (Watford), Burke (Aston Villa), Forde (Wolves). Subs: George (Celtic) for Burke (50), Morrissey (Trieste) for Barker (88).