A magical night for Mason Melia as he bags brace in Ireland’s win over Hungary
Newtown star shines bright in Hungary
MASON MELIA’S dream 2023 has gone from strength-to-strength after inspiring the Republic of Ireland U17s into the quarter-finals of the European Championships.
The 15-year-old starlet scored twice and assisted the other two as Colin O’Brien’s men beat host national Hungary 4-2 in their final, must-win group match on Tuesday evening.
The result capped off a remarkable group stage for the young side, who lost 5-1 to Poland in the opening game before bouncing back with a 3-0 win over Wales.
Just 11 days before the date with Hungary, Melia was replacing fellow Wicklow-native Conor Carty to become the youngest League of Ireland player in St. Patrick’s Athletic’s history in their 3-0 win over Drogheda Utd.
And on Tuesday night, his star’s shine grew ever brighter with a performance beyond his years at the Pancho Arena, having a direct say in all four goals as Ireland progressed into the last eight.
First, he set up clubmate Luke Kehir to put the Boys in Green 1-0 up inside five minutes. The home side would equalise five minutes later but, on 24 minutes, Melia struck with his first goal of the day.
A corner from Ikechukwu Orazi went straight over the heads of the Hungarian defence and dropped towards the backpost. Up leapt Melia, who headed home to restore the Irish lead.
The same two combined again for the third on 31 minutes, Orazi played down towards the left-hand by-line, where he cut the ball back into the danger area for Mason to score, as Ireland led at half-time 3-1.
It was 4-1 on 64 minutes, with Melia once again involved. After the away side won the ball back high up the pitch, Melia picked it up and carried it towards the box. He laid the ball across the edge of the box for Kehir, who slammed the ball home to extend their lead to three.
Hungary scored a consolation, but Ireland wouldn’t be denied a place in Saturday’s quarter-finals. Win that and not only will they be in the last four, but also a place at the World Cup later this year.