Thursday 18 April 2019

Idah bags a brace as Kenny gets off to flyer

Ireland U-21s 3 Luxembourg U-21s 0

Adam Idah heads home Ireland’s first goal in their U-21 European U-21 Championship qualifier Luxembourg in Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile
Adam Idah heads home Ireland’s first goal in their U-21 European U-21 Championship qualifier Luxembourg in Tallaght Stadium. Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Fallon

It didn't take long for Stephen Kenny to be yearning for more of a good thing. The former Dundalk boss is pining for another U-21 match following a debut victory yesterday.

Adam Idah marked his debut at this level by collecting a brace against basement seeds Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium in their opening Euro 2021 qualifier. Neil Farrugia's neat finish in between also came on his debut.

The biggest crowd since 1995 for an U-21 match, 4,772, turned up to watch Kenny begin his international managerial career.

That is due for an upgrade with his preordained promotion to senior level next year.

"When we led 2-0 at half-time we spoke about winning by five goals," said Kenny.

Sterner

Republic of Ireland's Neil Farrugia shoots to score his side's second goal. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Neil Farrugia shoots to score his side's second goal. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

"It was an excellent all-round performance, although with Italy, Sweden, Iceland and Armenia also in the group, we will have sterner tests ahead.

"After starting well, we got a little frustrated for a period. We didn't lose our way, but for 10 minutes we stopped the period of domination.

"It was great that Adam scored during that time. That relaxed us and we dominated again.

"The display was inventive, the full-backs got down the channels and we didn't concede any chances.

Republic of Ireland's Connor Ronan in action against Luxembourg's Pit Simon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Connor Ronan in action against Luxembourg's Pit Simon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

"Considering the players didn't know each other, they played very well as a team. We had four different age groups out there.

"For example, Adam only knew three players. That shows the nature of it, how new this squad is. I really enjoyed the week and I'd love to have another match next week.

"That's the way of international football because we're not due to play again until the Toulon Tournament in June. Then the qualifiers restart in September."

Three points yesterday was essential for Ireland to have any chance of reaching a first-ever major U-21 tournament.

Luxembourg's Kenan Avdusinovic in action against Republic of Ireland's Lee O'Connor. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Luxembourg's Kenan Avdusinovic in action against Republic of Ireland's Lee O'Connor. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

They should have been ahead after only seven minutes when Idah scampered clear, only to ripple his shot into the side-netting.

Aside from Kenan Avdusinovic's tame shot which was easily saved, Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher in the Ireland goal was hardly troubled. Instead, Ireland got a foothold and forged ahead on 34 minutes.

Farrugia's corner-kick was telegraphed perfectly for Idah to attack the near post and steer his header into the top corner.

It was only four minutes later before the visitors were run ragged again.

Man of the match Connor Ronan performed the approach play by advancing at pace and his slide-rule pass was finished by Farrugia's deft dink beyond the stranded goalkeeper.

A programme seller displays the eye-catching front page. Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile
A programme seller displays the eye-catching front page. Photo: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland's dominance continued after the break and a similar break by Ronan led to the third on 68 minutes.

Idah was the recipient this time, haring clear from the break and burying his low shot beneath Tom Ottele.

Jayson Molumby, who alongside Conor Coventry bossed the midfield, had earlier almost embarrassed the Luxembourg goalkeeper with an audacious lob from 35 yards which clattered off the crossbar.

Wrapped

Ireland could have added more goals to their tally, with Ronan, Molumby and Zachary Elbouzedi spurning chances, but the result was already wrapped up.

"We had worked a lot on the training ground during the week about getting balls into the box," said Cork native Idah afterwards.

"I was a bit annoyed to miss the early chance but I knew more would come.

"To score twice on my U-21 debut is great but the team performance was the main thing."

Kenny said of Idah: "Adam has only turned 18 and we don't know yet how far he can go in the game."

Early days yet, but this performance shows that Kenny's side certainly can go far.

IRELAND - C Kelleher (Liverpool); L O'Connor (Manchester United), D O'Shea (Exeter City), C Masterson (Liverpool), D Leahy (Bohemians); J Molumby (Brighton & Hove Albion), C Coventry (West Ham United); Z Elbouzedi (Waterford), C Ronan (FC DAC 1904), N Farrugia (UCD); A Idah (Norwich City). Subs: J Lennon (St. Patrick's Athletic) for Molumby (78 mins), D Mandroiu (Bohemians) for Ronan (86 mins), B Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers) for Farrugia, M O'Connor (Linfield) for Elbouzedi, A Drinan (Waterford) for Idah (all 89 mins).

LUXEMBOURG - T Ottele; E Brandenburger, T Held, P Simon, K D'Anzico; L Duriatti (Dylan Kuete 87), C Duarte, J Ostrowski; M Olesen (Loris Tinelli 69), L Prudhomme, K Avdusinovic (Yannick Schaus 62).

Ref - T Christofi (Cyprus)

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