Wednesday 22 November 2017

Shodipo strikes but U-21s fail to spark in victory

Shodipo was the sharpest operator on view, as the QPR man forced the ball over the line after a scramble on 56 minutes for the winner. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Shodipo was the sharpest operator on view, as the QPR man forced the ball over the line after a scramble on 56 minutes for the winner. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Similar to Friday night's senior match, the main outcome of note from Ireland's U-21 game on Saturday against Kosovo was the 1-0 result.

Ireland stuttered past Andorra at the start of the last Euro qualifiers and that transpired into an underwhelming campaign, so the only hope is that this bid for the 2019 finals improves with time.

On a dreary afternoon at Tallaght Stadium, where Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane were among the sparse crowd, Olamide Shodipo was the sharpest operator on view, as the QPR man forced the ball over the line after a scramble on 56 minutes for the winner.

Kosovo were contesting their first qualifier at this level, yet seemed anything but rookies and left Tallaght aghast at not taking a point.

Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O'Hara kept a clean sheet on his Ireland debut, despite Mendurim Hoti beating him but not the upright with two attempts in the last half hour.

Impact Ryan Manning, one of only two players who featured to have been developed in the FAI's jurisdiction, didn't have the desired impact on his bow, but another newcomer, Ryan Sweeney, believes the team will fuse as the campaign unfolds.

Noel King's side are not in action again until September, when they travel to Azerbaijan, before they negotiate even tougher tests against Germany, Israel and Norway in the remainder of the group.

"I thought it was a bit scrappy," admitted Sweeney, currently on loan at Bristol Rovers from Stoke City.

"Kosovo made it difficult for us, but these are the games you have to grind down and get the three points. A couple of other lads from the last U-21 squad have moved up to the seniors and I'll see where my performances take me."

Ireland U21 - O'Hara (Manchester Utd); Whelan (Liverpool), Sweeney (Bristol Rovers), Donnellan (Dagenham), Kane (Huddersfield); Dimaio (Chesterfield), Cullen (Bradford); Charsley (Everton), Manning (QPR), Shodipo (Port Vale); Curtis (Derry City). Sub: Grego-Cox (Port Vale) for Manning (66)

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