Portugal stars dump Ireland U-19s out while U-17s top Euro group
Ireland U-19 boss Tom Mohan admitted his side were second best by a distance as their hopes of reaching a first European Championships in seven years perished with a 4-0 defeat to Portugal yesterday.
While the U-17s, already guaranteed a place at their Euros in May, concluded their group by beating Poland 1-0, overcoming a traditional superpower at youth level like the Portuguese is an entirely different assignment.
As champions of Europe at U-17 level two years, this Portugal side are rated highly.
The fact, too, that they had available their West Ham United star Domingos Quina, when Ireland's eligible Hammer Declan Rice was engaged with the seniors and U-21s, helped their cause.
The midfielder alone wasn't responsible for dismantling an Ireland side who required victory over the elite qualification group hosts after drawing with Slovakia and beating Kosovo. Decorated with players from Porto and Benfica, their swift movement and passing taught the Irish a lesson.
Gedson Fernandez had their Estádio Cidade stadium in Barcelos rocking after just 10 minutes by finding the breakthrough and his penalty nine minutes from full-time came after further strikes by captain Diogo Queiros and Pedro Correia.
Dismissal Having to play the last half hour with 10 men due to the dismissal of Brighton attacker Aaron Connolly only worsened Ireland's plight.
"We were beaten by the better team and a top-class opponent ," admitted Ireland boss Mohan.
"We had chances early on but weren't able to take them but Portugal won the U-17 title two years ago and have a brilliant chance to win the U-19 title this summer."
The U-17s, meanwhile, once again had prodigious Tottenham Hotspur talent Troy Parrott to thank for scoring the only goal of the group decider against Poland in their back yard.
When captain Nathan Collins was fouled inside the box eight minutes into the second half, up stepped the 16-year-old to convert.
Following wins over Macedonia and Georgia, this win ensured Ireland head into the draw at St George's Park on April 5 as group winners.
The finals, hosted by England, begin on May 4.
Also in action yesterday were Ireland's U-18s, who lost 1-0 to Romania in a friendly.