UEFA Under-19 first phase qualifier
Republic of Ireland¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†2 - 1¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bulgaria
Sean McGinty 48¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Georgi Amzin 40
Robert Brady 77
The Republic of Ireland reversed a half-time deficit on Saturday to defeat mini-group hosts Bulgaria and confirm their qualification from the UEFA first phase.
An opening 5-0 win over Luxembourg on Thursday set Paul Doolin's side off to a flier in their campaign and a second half performance full of guile and courage yielded the three points which send them into next year's elite section of the qualifiers.
Bulgaria needed a win to compensate for their opening day loss to Serbia and pressurised Ireland in the opening half with a tally of six corners finally bringing a goal on 40 minutes.
Shane Duffy's clearance from Georgi Milanov's corner was sent back into the box and Georgi Amzin was well placed to divert the ball beyond goalkeeper Aaron McCarey.
Doolin sent Craig Walsh on at the break as a substitute for Anton Rodgers and the equaliser wasn't long in coming.
Three minutes after the restart, Daryl Horgan and Robbie Brady were involved in an attacking move which unhinged the Bulgarian defence. When the ball was worked to Sean McGinty, the Manchester United defender was coolness personified in slipping past a defender and tucking a low shot into the bottom corner.
It was all closely contested for the next 20 minutes, with both side fashioning chances without applying the clinical finish.
Robert Brady forced a superb save from Dimitar Evtimov and the follow up chance attempted by Horgan was also thwarted by the home side's goalkeeper.
Brady wouldn't be denied though and his efforts brought a reward on 76 minutes when a sparkling move resulted in the winner.
Jeff Hendrick laid the ball into the winger's path and he swept past his marker and drilled a crisp shot into the net for 2-1.
Ireland remain top of the group on six points, ahead of Serbia on goals scored, as they also won their game 3-0 against Luxembourg. The two qualified nations meet in Tuesday's concluding fixture with Doolin's side requiring a point to win the group.
Republic of Ireland: McCarey (Wolves); Walker (Wrexham), McGinty (Man United), Duffy (Everton), Egan (Sunderland); Rodgers (Chelsea), Hendrick (Derby County), McDonnell (Dundalk); Horgan (Salthill Devon), Shaw (Bray Wanderers), Brady (Man United).
Substitutions: Walsh (Longford Town) for Rodgers (h/t), McHugh (Reading) for McDonnell (61 mins), Rafter (unattached) for Shaw (80 mins).
UEFA U19 Championship first phase qualifiers:
Thursday October 7 (4pm)
Republic of Ireland 5-0 Luxembourg - Georgi Benkovski Stadium, Teteven
Serbia 3-0 Bulgaria - Lokomotiv, Mezdra
Saturday October 9 (4pm)
Republic of Ireland 2-1 Bulgaria - Georgi Benkovski Stadium, Teteven
Serbia 3-0 Luxembourg - Lokomotiv, Mezdra
Tuesday October 12 (4pm)
Serbia v Republic of Ireland - Georgi Benkovski Stadium, Teteven.
Luxembourg v Bulgaria - - Lokomotiv, Mezdra.¬†
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