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Paul Doolin: Elite Phase draw is 'difficult' for Boys in Green

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Republic of Ireland coach Paul Doolin

Republic of Ireland coach Paul Doolin

Republic of Ireland coach Paul Doolin

Ireland U19 manager Paul Doolin says his squad face an uphill battle after the draw for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round was made, pairing his side with Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

After doing very well in the qualifying round of this season's campaign when they progressed with Switzerland last month, Doolin's side have been handed an extremely tough draw in the Elite Round.

Ireland will travel to reigning champions Germany in March for the Group 2 fixtures with Slovakia and Czech Republic making up the group. The fixtures will take place on March 26, 28 and 31 near Frankfurt. The seven group winners join hosts Greece in the finals from July 6-19, 2015.

sTRONG

Slovakia were first seeds, Ireland were second seeds and the Germans were only seeded third as they were given a bye in the qualifying round - making it as tough a draw as the Irish could arguably have received.

"The draw for the Elite Phase is extremely tough, there's no doubt about it. Two years ago age we played Germany in the qualifiers and drew 2-2. They are the current UEFA U19 champions and the hosts so we know how difficult a challenge that will be," said Doolin (pictured above).

"However I have to say that the fact that the games are in March gives us very little preparation time. It's a very difficult situation for us. The other countries wouldn't agree to play at a different time. It's terrible for our squad of players who have worked so hard to qualify and not have the opportunity to prepare. We'll have to do something."

The draw was also made for the 2015-16 UEFA U19 Championships Qualifying Round stage and once again the Irish have been handed a tough draw. Ireland will be the hosts in a group featuring Scotland, Slovenia and Latvia in November next year.

Ireland U17s will face hosts Poland, Belarus and Greece in the Elite Phase of the U17s European Championships with the games set for March 21, 23 and 26 in the Poznan region.

Ireland have been drawn in Group 3 of the 2015-16 UEFA U17 Championships Qualifying Round with Sweden, Malta and hosts Finland making up the group. These fixtures will take place on September 24, 26 and 29.

These finals will also be acting as Europe's qualifier for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile - UEFA having been allocated six berths, which will go to the four semi-finalists and the winners of two play-offs involving beaten quarter-finalists.

"The Elite Phase is tough but we believe we can be competitive. Poland were the No.1 seeds and are the hosts. They won all three in qualifiers so are obviously a very good side," said Mohan.

"We've played Greece several times and know that they'll always be difficult opposition. They didn't concede a goal in the Qualifying Round. Belarus will be difficult too. They were narrowly beaten 2-1 by Russia in qualifiers and beat Wales and Macedonia.

"We're preparing as well as we can so we will be ready for late March. The way it's structured all of the sides will go there thinking they have a chance of progressing."

Mohan is in the Netherlands this week on his UEFA Pro Licence course visiting clubs including Ajax and PECS Zwolle. He believes the draw for next season's UEFA U17 Championship Qualifying Round is a tough one.

Ireland have been drawn in Group 3 of the 2015-16 UEFA U17 Championships Qualifying Round with Sweden, Malta and hosts Finland making up the group. These fixtures will take place on September 24, 26 and 29.


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