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Our youths must bulk up – Doolin

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Paul Doolin, Republic of Ireland Under-19 manager Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Paul Doolin, Republic of Ireland Under-19 manager Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Paul Doolin, Republic of Ireland Under-19 manager Picture: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

PAUL DOOLIN believes that changes need to be made if the Republic of Ireland underage teams are to have a chance of consistently qualifying for tournaments.

While his Under 19s fared well in the first of their three Elite Phase qualifiers with a 2-2 draw against Serbia in Belgrade last night, the former Drogheda United boss cited the difference in physicality between the Switzerland players and his own.

"I think we might have to look at a few different things, because they (Switzerland) were so powerful. I'm dealing with players who are not up to the level, physically, to the teams that we're coming up against," said Doolin (pictured).

"The players were outstanding and started really well, but you could see when they started to bring players off the bench, they were so much bigger than us and they used that at set-pieces.

"To compete in international football, we're going to have to think of a new strategy because the boys that we are playing against are men. We might have to think further down the line and start preparing players physically when they are younger.

"In saying that, we did outstanding to get a draw, which was probably a fair result in the end. We are still in the mix and take on Slovakia next. All we wanted going into these games was to be in it until the final game."

After flying into a 2-0 lead inside the opening half hour, thanks to goals from Sam Byrne and Kieran Sadlier, Ireland were pegged back as Michael Frey and Samuele Campo both scored.

The result means that Doolin's troops must beat Slovakia – who were hammered 4-0 by Serbia in the other Group 2 game – in order to stay in the mix for a place at the finals in Lithuania.

If they can bounce back in tomorrow's game, then Ireland will go into next Tuesday's final qualifier against Serbia with a chance of qualifying. But Doolin believes there is a bigger issue to highlight in the long term.


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