Doolin delighted at dream start
Bulgaria U-19 1 Ireland U-19 4
IRELAND'S U-19s made a dream start to the first phase of their European Championship qualifying campaign by thumping mini-group hosts Bulgaria on their home patch at Plovdiv yesterday.
Paul Doolin's charges never looked back once striker Connor Smith embarrassed Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov by chipping him for the opener after only three minutes.
Neil Byrne, on his competitive international debut, then beat his Forest team-mate to score Ireland's second from a corner after 12 minutes.
Bulgaria failed to muster a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and matters things got worse on 64 minutes. Samir Carruthers smashed a shot off the underside of the crossbar and, after the ball had been hacked away, the Aston Villa midfielder was allowed time and space from the resultant corner to make it 3-0.
Bulgaria pulled a goal back through Todor Nedelev's free-kick 20 minutes from time, but Ireland were in no mood to let things slip and Anthony Forde -- Ireland's main attacking threat -- made it 4-1 in the 88th minute.
The result means another Irish victory in their second game tomorrow against Bosnia and Herzegovina, who were 2-0 winners over Russia in yesterday's other Group 2 game, will secure them qualification into the elite phase with the last game against Russia next Tuesday to spare.
A delighted Doolin said afterwards: "Coming here and beating the host nation 4-1 is a fantastic achievement."
Ireland -- McDermott (Arsenal); Barker (Bohemians), Byrne (Notts Forest), McHugh (Dundalk), Williams (Aston Villa); Carruthers (Aston Villa), O'Sullivan (Blackburn ), Garmston (West Brom); Murray (Watford), C. Smith (Watford), Forde (Wolves). Subs: G Smith (Southend United) for Carruthers (75 mins), Lyons (UCD) for C Smith (89), George (Celtic) for Forde (90).