Doolin delight at home comforts for U-19s
PAUL Doolin's Ireland U-19 side will have home advantage when they bid to qualify for next year's European Championships.
It was agreed after the draw in Switzerland that their Elite Phase group will be staged in Ireland, a significant boost to Doolin after playing 25 consecutive competitive games away from home since his appointment as boss.
Ireland will take on defending champions Serbia, Turkey and Iceland in a four-team group that will be staged between May 28 and June 2, with venues yet to be decided. The winners will progress to the finals.
"We played Serbia in the Elite Phase last year, drew with them, hit the post in the last minute and then watched them go on and win the U-19 Championship," said Doolin.
"It could so easily have been us going to the finals. Serbia will be very strong because they seem to be able to produce generation after generation of good players.
"Turkey also always have decent under-age sides while Iceland are flying at all levels at the moment, with their U-17s and U-19s qualifying for the Elite Phases and their seniors reaching the World Cup play-offs.
"It's going to be tough to qualify, so that's why it's good to have the group in Ireland. I am absolutely delighted that we are going to host the group after 25 away games, even though we have an excellent record during this time, with 11 wins and eight draws. It's great for the players and hopefully we will get plenty of support."
Tom Mohan's U-17 side will be on their travels, however, and have landed a tough group containing hosts Serbia, Germany and Georgia as they bid to make the finals.
On a busy day of UEFA housekeeping, the preliminary draws for the 2014/2015 U-17 and U-19 Championships also took place.
Ireland will host both qualifying groups at U-17 and U-19 level. The U-17s have been drawn against Scotland, Faroe Islands and Gibraltar, with the matches taking place between September 22-27, 2014.
The next U-19 crop will meet Switzerland, Malta and Gibraltar on home soil in November, with the aim of making the 2015 Elite Phase.