Forde focus drives win over dutch

Aidan Fitzmaurice

LED BY AN impressive pack of Wolves, Ireland served notice of what could be a new beginning for the Republic's U21 team as they romped home to a 3-0 win over Holland in a friendly at Tallaght Stadium.

Among the attendance was former Ireland international and current assistant boss at Wolves, Corkman Brian Carey, who came away with some real food for thought as three Molineux men starred in the win. Winger Anthony Forde earning some real praise as he helped set up two goals for debutant Aiden O'Brien and also scored one, while keeper Aaron McCarey kept a clean sheet and right back Matt Doherty also showcased his talents with another impressive display in a new-look Ireland U21 side.


The downside was that Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistants didn't find the time to attend the game or even part of it – even though he was preparing his senior side for the friendly against Poland later on the same day.

The fact that neither Trap nor Marco Tardelli or Alan Kelly could find the time to watch even 45 minutes is just the latest sign of the lack of interest in the underage scene in this country and is the sort of snub which would simply not be tolerated in another country of our size.

It's a pity as this young Irish side deserved some wider attention, and it's a long time since an Ireland team at any level would come away with a 3-0 scoreline after a battle with Holland, even though the Dutch side looked decidedly young and off-colour.


"It's a brilliant feeling to win any game but to beat the Dutch and beat them 3-0 is a great boost for confidence for the next round of qualifiers later in the year," said Limerick-born winger Forde, the man from the hurling stronghold of Ballingarry who was one of Ireland's key performers on the day.

"We worked hard to prepare for the game and I think we all deserve credit, even when the manager made a lot of changes at half-time we kept our shape and looked good. We're delighted with the win.

"On a personal level it was good to know that the club's assistant manager was here to see the game and I think the three Wolves boys did well, hopefully that will do us some good when it comes to getting into the team at Wolves," added Forde, who has made 16 appearances for the Molineux outfit this season.

"I haven't played in the last few games but the gaffer has told me to be patient and if I don't get games in the next few weeks I will go out on loan."

With an early-afternoon kick-off in front of a small and demure crowd in Tallaght Stadium, the U21 game served up a string of positives: a second successive win against a major nation (Ireland won away to Italy in their previous game), seven goals scored in the last two U21 games, only the second clean sheet in the last U21 matches.


Keeper McCarey had to work hard for his clean sheet and he needed a sharp reaction to keep out a headed back pass from defender Derrick Williams in the third minute. But within ten minutes Ireland had the lead, Millwall man O'Brien finishing well after Doherty had flicked on a free kick from fellow Wolves man Forde.

And on the half-hour mark O'Brien – a Londoner who qualifies for Ireland via a grandparent but is struggling to get into the Millwall first team – made it a dream debut when he again came up with a poacher's finish from Forde's cross.

Ten minutes into the second half Holland were down and out as Forde stepped up to finish a penalty after O'Brien was felled in the box, an injury leaving O'Brien unable to take the kick for a possible hat-trick.

Manager Noel King had made sweeping changes by then, with five substitutions made at the half-time break alone, while there was a warm welcome for 56th-minute sub Christopher Forrester, only the second St Patrick's Athletic player to be capped at U21 level in the last 14 years, and the Pat's man showed enough to deserve more chances at this level.

No less than 12 player made their U21 debuts yesterday and for keeper McCarey, the signs are positive.

"Getting a clean sheet was a big deal for me," said Monaghan native McCarey, one of the senior players in the side now with five U21 caps.


"To beat a team of the calibre of Holland is great. I didn't think Holland were that great on the day but that can't take away from the achievement. We had a new team with a lot of players making their debuts and I think we have all staked a claim for the next qualifying campaign."