Mohan rubbishes talent deficit fears
Ireland U-19 boss chief Tom Mohan has posted an encouraging note about the future after his side beat Serbia 2-1 yesterday to top their European Championship qualifying group.
Seven points from their three games in Waterford earns Ireland progression to the elite phase next March when they'll hope to go one step further by reaching the finals for the first time since 2011.
Serbia required a draw in the concluding fixture to progress as table-toppers and they forged ahead with a brilliantly-executed free-kick from Luka Ilic on the half hour.
Local lad Lee O'Connor of Manchester United led the second-half comeback, nodding in the equaliser on the hour before setting up the decisive goal for UCD's Niall Farrugia 10 minutes later. Both nations had a player sent off in stoppage time, meaning Shamrock Rovers midfielder Aaron Bolger will be suspended for at least the first fixture of the elite phase.
"There is great ability in the group," stressed Mohan afterwards. "We are producing good players, no matter what anybody says.
"Serbia are always a top side in underage European football and to come from a goal down showed the character of the group.
"Earning a first seeding in the elite phase draw will be a huge positive."
Meanwhile, Adam Idah grabbed a hat-trick as Ireland's U-17s opened their first phase group in Bulgaria with a 6-0 pasting of Azerbaijan. Sean Brennan, Tyriek Wright and Max Murphy were rattled the net in Gorna Orechovitsa. Ukraine defeated hosts Bulgaria in the other game, providing an early indication as to which two nations will emerge from the group.
The Irish side, managed by Colin O'Brien, are next in action on Thursday against the Bulgarians.
IRELAND U-19: M Travers (Weymouth); D McKenna (Wolves), C Carroll (Oxford Utd), D O'Shea (Hereford Utd), T Wilson (Manchester City); T O'Connor (Southampton), J Molumby (Brighton); L O'Connor (Manchester Utd), A Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), N Farrugia (UCD); J Afolabi (Southampton).
IRELAND U-17: K Clarke (Bohemians); M Murphy (St Joseph's Boys), O McEntee (Newcastle Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (Southampton); B Coffey (Celtic), J Knight (Derby County), S Brennan (Southampton); C Thompson (Wolves), A Idah (Norwich City), T Wright (Lakewood).
Subs: M Walsh (Swansea City) for Wright (49), S Mahon (Cherry Orchard) for Brennan (57), J Ellis (St Joseph's Bray) for Idah (67)