Summerhill College student Eli Rooney played in the Republic of Ireland Under 18 schools’ team’s win over their Australian counterparts in a friendly at Home Farm FC, Whitehall on Saturday, January 21st.
Carrick-on-Shannon and Sligo Rovers’ Niall Holohan was also involved.
This was the first competitive outing for John McShane’s select and it proved to be quite a physical battle. Captain Jesse Dempsey (Wexford CBS) had to come off at the break following an earlier collision.
In a scoreless first half, the visitors enjoyed much of the possession but didn’t trouble the Irish netminder Ryan Delaney.
The hosts were first to make an impact with Adam O’Halloran forcing a tremendous save from the Australian goalkeeper with 14 minutes played.
This was followed up by a glancing header from Carrick on Shannon scholar Niall Holohan who went just wide of the mark at the half hour mark.
Eoin Kenny netted a fabulous opener with 51 minutes registered as Peter Grogan played in Kenny to slot in at the far post from 6 yards out.
However the celebrations were short lived as Will Freney equalised two minutes later with a sublime set piece to the top corner.
The last quarter of play was broken up with more substitutions from both benches and this proved decisive.
Brian Cunningham was only on the park 15 minutes when he struck what proved to be the match winner in the 90th minute.
An incredible team goal on the counter attack as Niall Holohan intercepted a Socceroo attack. The Leitrim man played the ball down the wing to Aidan Russell Vargas who fed Cunningham at the edge of the box. The young Athenry star struck to the far post as the ball bundled past the Aussie defense.
Australia’s substitute Davd Seselja thought he got an equaliser four minutes into added time but he was ruled to be off-side so Ireland held on for the win.
A nice start for the Irish as they make final preparations for the SAFIB Centenary Shield series opener away to Scotland on February 23. The Republic of Ireland will then face Wales at home on March 9 while England come to town a fortnight later. The Irish campaign will conclude on March 30 when they travel to Blanchflower Stadium, home of H&W Welders FC to take on Simon Nicks’ side.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SCHOOLS SELECT: Ryan Delaney (St. Francis College, Rochestown), Jonathan Adedeji (St. Mary’s Secondary School, Edenderry), Eli Rooney (Summerhill College, Sligo), Niall Holohan (Carrick on Shannon Community School), Senan Mullen (St. Aidan’s Comprehensive School, Cootehill), Aaron Healy (Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig), Ryan McBrearty (St. Mary’s Diocesan School, Drogheda), Adam O’Halloran (Clarin College, Athenry), Peter Grogan (St. Mary’s CBS, Carlow), Rhys Kelly Noonan (Coláiste Mhuire, Crosshaven), Jesse Dempsey (Wexford CBS)
SUBS USED: Ronan Mansfield (Blackwater Community School, Lismore) for Dempsey (HT), Eoin Kenny (St. Mary’s College, Dundalk) for Kelly Noonan (HT), Stephen Mohan (Clonkeen College, Blackrock) for O’Halloran (HT), Aidan Russell Vargas (Lusk Community College) for McBrearty (HT), Daithi Folan (Belvedere College, Dublin) for Delaney (75), Brian Cunningham (Presentation College, Headford) for Grogan (75), Callum Bonner (St. Patrick’s Classical School, Navan) for Mullen (75)
MANAGEMENT: John McShane (Loreto Secondary School, Bray), Derek O’Brien, Coach (Ardscoil na Mara, Tramore), Ollie Horgan, Coach (St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny), Conor Foley, GK Coach (Athlone Community College), Martin Cavanagh, Equipment Manager (Carndonagh Community School), Michael McGlynn (Physio), Dr. Aidan O’Colmain (Team Doctor).