U21s start the party with victory over Liechtenstein

Aidan Fitzmaurice

IRELAND'S U21 side teed up a night of celebration tonight for the senior's game with their third win from four European Championship qualifiers.

Noel King's men overcame Liechtenstein 2-0 at the Showgrounds, with first-half goals from Robbie Brady and Aidan White (pictured).

Ireland are now just three points behind joint leaders Italy and Turkey -- though Ireland have two games in hand on the Turks.

The group calendar is the only thing that can halt the gallop of King's side, as they now have a seven-month break before their next game, at home to Italy, but King remains happy with his side's progress and their contribution to the good mood.

"Everybody involved in soccer in Ireland is overjoyed with what's going on," said King after the win.

"We did our job and did it well last night. We got a win, scored two goals and kept a clean sheet, last night was our first clean sheet of the group so that was a bonus.

"The players did well, getting the win was great but a clean sheet was a big bonus and now we look forward to the next qualifier against the Italians, which will be a big test."

With qualification for Euro 2012 almost secure, the U21 players went into last night's game hoping to catch the eye of Giovanni Trapattoni, and Dubliner Robbie Brady, on loan from Manchester United to Hull City, did himself no harm with another dazzling display.

He scored his fifth goal at U21 level from the penalty spot on 13 minutes, and then later did all the hard work for impressive Leeds United man Aidan White to make it 2-0.

White had played for England at youth level but, via a paternal grandfather who came from Wexford, has opted to play for Ireland and has responded with a series of good displays.

Brady almost had his second of the night in the second-half but sent his shot wide, while White was also a threat.

Late on, King introduced three subs, handing Shamrock Rovers star Karl Sheppard his U21 debut, and the locals in the crowd at the Showgrounds were delighted to see Sligo Rovers' star Aaron Greene get a run, while impressive Derby County man Jeff Hendrick also came off the bench.