Monday 18 December 2017

Connolly's strike proves difference as classy Irish sink Ukraine

REP of Ireland U-19 1
Ukraine U-19 0

Stephen Finn

RYAN CONNOLLY'S goal nine minutes into the second half secured an impressive victory for the Republic of Ireland U-19s in a friendly clash against Ukraine at Frank Cooke Park.

Connolly slotted the ball home from 10 yards after Patrick McEleney did the spadework with a brilliant dribble and through ball.

Ukraine goalkeeper Arthur Denchuk made a top-class save to keep out a Stephen McDonnell free-kick in the fifth minute.

Derby County midfielder Jeff Hendrick showed plenty of appetite for a long-range strike and fired narrowly over from 25 yards in the 10th minute. Hendrick brought the best out of the goalkeeper again three minutes before the break with a shot from outside the box.

Ukraine, who finished third in the UEFA U-17 Championships two seasons ago, had several strikes from distance, but found the Irish defence in impressive form.

Denis Irwin was watching his son Liam in action, while former Kerry GAA goal machine John Egan was present to see his son John marshall the Irish back four.

"It was a very positive performance from our players. I'm so pleased with how we played, keeping possession and building from the back," said manager Sean McCaffrey.

"We won the game and that's important but in friendlies the performance is more important and it was very good. The quality of the possession and the attacking was very good. We just need to finish them off, but we created chances so that's pleasing."

REP OF IRELAND -- McCarey (McDermott 46); O'Connor (Walker 46), Egan, Shaughnessy, Osbourne, Horgan (Byrne 46), Hendrick, Walsh (Irwin 46), Connolly (Horgan 81, reintroduced), McDonnell (McEleney 46), Rafter (Brady 70).

UKRAINE -- Denchuk; Karavaev, Ordels, Noiok, Shabanov, Mochulenko (Nasanov 65), Calitvintsev, Ozarkiv, Ivanko (Churko 78), Koval, Budkivskiy.

Ref-- R Winter (Dublin).

Irish Independent

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