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Doolin able to see bright side despite lack of FAI resources

Latvia U-19 1 Rep of Ireland U-19 1

IRELAND U-19 manager Paul Doolin insists his team can overcome problems caused by FAI budgetary cutbacks and qualify for the UEFA Championship finals.

Saturday's draw in Riga was Ireland's only warm-up game for next month's first-phase qualifiers, bizarrely providing him with the first and only chance to see some of his charges in the flesh.

Savage cuts have wrought havoc on funding of Ireland's underage international teams.

Doolin, who later this month celebrates his second anniversary at the helm of the Irish U-19 and U-18 teams, has yet to have an international game at U-18 level.

In addition, the U-19s have had no home games over the same period, thereby denying the public a chance to witness the next generation of budding talent.

It all makes Doolin's frustrations understandable.

However, what he saw against Latvia makes him more confident of success ahead of a first-phase qualifying mini-group that also includes hosts Luxembourg, Germany and Macedonia from October 11 to 15.

Injury

"Some of these players hadn't played an international game for two years, so to see them perform well was very pleasing," said the former Drogheda United and Cork City boss, who had only 14 outfield players available to him on Saturday owing to the loss through injury of Eoin Hyland and Colm Horgan in the run-up to the game.

"All we've had with the players so far this season is the four days of training before this game.

"The next time we'll see them is the week of the UEFA qualifiers. It's not ideal but that's the situation we're in."

Darragh Lenihan, the former Belvedere player now excelling for Blackburn Rovers reserves, went close before Latvia went ahead against the run of play on 35 minutes when a vicious free-kick glanced off Shane Griffin's head and into the Ireland net for an own goal.

Ireland's response was immediate, with the equaliser arriving within four minutes as Aston Villa's Mikey Drennan ghosted in at the back post to meet a Conor Wilkinson right-wing cross with a perfectly-placed header.

"There were some excellent performances, from Ian Lawlor in goal to the two Lenihans, Darragh and Brian, as well as Spurs winger Kenny McEvoy," said Doolin.

IRELAND -- Lawlor (Man City); B Lenihan (Cork City), Griffin (Reading), Hoban (Watford), Garmston (WBA); McEvoy (Tottenham), Gallagher (Burnley), D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Drennan (Aston Villa); Maguire (Waterford Utd), Wilkinson (Millwall). Subs: Coll (unattached) for Lawlor, Sadlier (West Ham) for Maguire, Sweeney (Reading) for Griffen (all h-t), Roberts (Inverness) for Drennan, Pepper (Inverness) for Gallagher (both 55 mins).

Irish Independent