Tuesday 12 November 2019

This is one of the greatest feats in Irish football - King

Italy U-21 2
Rep of Ireland U-21 4
UEFA U-21 qualifier

John Fallon

THE BRADY SHOW may have left the building but there's more to the Irish U-21s than the newest graduate to the senior squad.

Giovanni Trapattoni has never attended an U-21 game but he'd be advised to source a DVD of this humbling inflicted upon his native country.

Noel King's side showed there's life after Robbie Brady with this landslide victory in Casarano, despite finishing with nine men and surviving two floodlight failure stoppages.

Defeat against Hungary on Thursday ended Ireland's qualification hopes and they also lost their star turn to the senior ranks.

However, a side featuring six players making their first starts at this grade inflicted the only defeat in eight on Italy, producing the best ever result at U-21 level.

"This has to be among the finest ever achievements in Irish football," gushed King. "With so many new players, it's certainly the best feat of a team I've managed."


Ireland hit the front midway through the first half. When Samir Carruthers slipped Sean Murray into space, the Watford winger chipped Mattia Perin from the edge of the box from a tight angle.

Back came the Azzurri when skipper Luca Caldirola headed in a corner. Sixty seconds later, Derrick Williams was sent off for hauling down Ciro Immobile in the box, but Aaron McCarey saved the spot-kick.

Down to 10 men, Ireland were supposed to cave in, but instead upped the ante after the break.

Conor Henderson set up Aaron Doran to race clear and score in the 58th minute, before the Arsenal midfielder turned finisher to net a stunning long-range strike.

Floodlight failure caused a 25-minute delay before Doran extended the lead eight minutes from time.

The drama continued in stoppage-time as Anthony Forde saw red for two swift bookings, before Stephan El Shaarawy got a consolation.

ITALY -- Perin; Faraoni, Masi, Rossi, Crescenzi; Sala (Viviani h-t), Caldirola, Marrone (Laribi 76); Immobile (De Luca 58), Gabbiadini, El Shaarawy.

IRELAND -- McCarey (Wolves); Doherty (Wolves), Egan (Sunderland), Williams (Aston Villa), White (Leeds United); Carruthers (Aston Villa), Henderson (Arsenal), O'Kane (Bournemouth); Murray (Watford), Doran (Inverness), Forde (Wolves).

Ref -- Ivan Kružliak (SVK).

Irish Independent

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