Tuesday 16 July 2019

Reaching Toulon semis just reward for U-21s' efforts

Ireland Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny will replace Mick McCarthy as senior boss next year. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny will replace Mick McCarthy as senior boss next year. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Stephen Kenny and his U-21 team flew home from Toulon yesterday that little bit more confident of breaking their major tournament duck.

Finishing fourth from a field of 12 nations at the two-week event was a creditable feat, particularly as they were the highest-placed European team.

Saturday's play-off for third, the rematch against a Mexico side they'd met in the group, ended scoreless again.

Most valuable for Kenny by the end of a penalty shoot-out defeat was that all his 22 players had enjoyed game-time in France.

"In Toulon, we beat China and Bahrain, drew twice with Mexico and lost 2-0 to an incredible Brazil team," reflected Kenny about their journey to the semi-finals.

"Our team was much younger than the opposition. The performances in Toulon have proven our players have nothing to fear. They have tremendous technical ability and are equals with the best players out there."

Captain Jayson Molumby carried an extra piece of luggage on the flight home. He was nominated among the top quartet of performers at the tournament.

Kenny reassembles his squad in September for the first of three double-headers over a 10-week blitz.

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