Thursday 24 May 2018

Parrott and Idah on target as U-17s book Dutch showdown

Ireland U-17 2 Bosnia & H U-17 0

Troy Parrott scores Ireland’s first goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Troy Parrott scores Ireland’s first goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

John Fallon

It might have taken John O'Shea's swansong speech to highlight the fact that Ireland's young guns are taking on Europe's finest this month and the current batch of U-17s are coping just fine.

Perhaps it was the lack of television coverage or the afternoon kick-offs which conspired against Ireland's presence at the European Championships in England cascading under the radar.

Then, there was the crushing 7-0 defeat to Germany last year. That loss, on the same day Ireland actually sealed progression to the quarter-finals, meant the feat of pushing a talented England outfit, who were unlucky to lose in the final, was underappreciated.

That O'Shea, a Champions League medal holder and five-time Premier League winner, still holds that international success in Scotland so close to his heart 20 years after they lifted the trophy indicates the opportunity ahead for the intake negotiating their pathway in the Midlands.

Troy Parrott, centre, celebrates with team-mates Cameron Ledwidge, left, and Barry Coffey. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile
Troy Parrott, centre, celebrates with team-mates Cameron Ledwidge, left, and Barry Coffey. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile

In sharp contrast to last year's limp qualification for the last eight, a comprehensive victory confirmed their passage this time.

Colin O'Brien's side were seldom troubled on a day when a defeat would have sent them home.

Instead, they were professional in their approach, showing patience and striking just as Bosnia & Herzegovina began to gamble by overloading their attack.

Goals in the final 11 minutes from Troy Parrott - a textbook free-kick - and Adam Idah made the difference, yet Ireland progressed with ease.

"A lot of the players here were in Croatia with us at last year's finals," explained O'Brien.

"However, especially with young players, the look of joy on their faces at the end of the win showed they'll go into Monday's quarter-final in good spirits.

Ireland's Cameron Ledwidge battles with Armin Saric of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile
Ireland's Cameron Ledwidge battles with Armin Saric of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile

"The boys recovered from defeat to Belgium on Saturday by deservedly beating Denmark and now Bosnia & Herzegovina.

"Against Bosnia, we could have scored earlier but Troy and Adam got the goals later and we start preparing for the challenge against a talented Dutch side straight away."

In truth, Ireland had enough chances to have sealed the deal by the interval. Top scorer Idah missed two golden openings inside the opening 10 minutes, firstly getting caught in two minds when released into space to allow goalkeeper Luca Kacavenda advance and smother.

Minutes later, the Norwich striker blazed his shot over from a wide angle.

Ireland held the upper hand after the break, with Jason Knight arrowing a shot across goal beyond the far post two minutes into the second half and Idah forcing Kacavenda to turn another attempt around the near post.

While the trend was maintained, with Idah lobbing an effort off the crossbar and Parrott stinging the palms of Kacavenda, Ireland were almost exposed.

Ireland U17 manager Colin O'Brien, left, congratulates Adam Idah, 9, and Cameron Ledwidge following the match against Bosnia. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile
Ireland U17 manager Colin O'Brien, left, congratulates Adam Idah, 9, and Cameron Ledwidge following the match against Bosnia. Photo: Malcolm Couzens/Sportsfile

Kristijan Stanic was permitted to roam in from the left unmarked and, fortunately for Ireland, he curled past the far post.

Just as the tie looked to be heading for a stalemate, Parrott underlined his talent with a second moment of class in four days.

Hauled

When Ireland substitute Max Murphy was hauled down 20 yards out, the Tottenham forward swerved his free over the wall and into the top corner.

The 16-year-old was involved in the second goal, freeing Idah who brushed off his marker before stroking the ball home from 10 yards.

Next up is a meeting with the Netherlands, roundly regarded as the best team at the tournament. They've already inflicted humblings on Germany and Spain in the group phase.

At least this group of Irish tyros will approach the task with nothing to fear.

Ireland - J Corcoran (Cherry Orchard); O McEntee (Newcastle Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (Southampton), L Connell (Bolton Wanderers); J Knight (Derby County), B Coffey (Celtic); T Wright (Aston Villa), S Brennan (Southampton), T Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur); A Idah (Norwich City). Subs: M Murphy (Stoke City) for Connell (58 mins), C Thompson (Wolves) for Brennan (64 mins), M Walsh (Swansea City) for Wright.

Ref - H Umat Meler (TUR)

Irish Independent

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