REPORT | FAI/ETB Representative Team end year on a high
In the searing Cork sunshine on a pristine pitch, both teams went at it from the get-go with plenty of chances at both ends. The impressive Ireland MU18 goalkeeper Ryan Delaney was proving hard to beat and Colin O'Brien's team went 1-0 up through Jason Folarin after good work from Franco Umeh.
Harry Kenny's team responded with an excellent goal from Owen Oseni (FAI/ETB Waterford) who threatened throughout with his pace and power and the teams went in level at half-time.
In an exciting encounter both managers used all their subs in the second half but the quality and intensity never dropped. It was end to end stuff throughout. The FAI/ETB were relentless off the ball, constantly pressing and making it difficult for the Irish MU18's to get into a rhythm.
Midway through the second half, Davda Shatayo (FAI/ETB Dundalk) gave FAI/ETB the lead. He was a handful to the Irish defence all day and he got his just rewards through a quick thinking finish with the outside of his foot.
FAI/ETB secured the victory from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go. With family and friends proudly looking on in the stand, Cork's own Timmy O'Reilly (FAI/ETB Douglas) confidently stepped up and dispatched the ball into the top corner, giving the keeper no chance.
In a game where there were many outstanding performances, FAI/ETB captain Zayed Abada (FAI/ETB Clondalkin) was the Player of the Match, giving an exhibition of central midfield play. He was everywhere on the pitch, dictating the game with his intensity and composure on the ball.
It was a well deserved victory for the FAI/ETB squad who defeated Irish Defence Forces 4-1 in May and who were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Tom Mohan's Republic of Ireland MU19 home based team in Abbotstown last month.
Speaking after the game, FAI/ETB Manager Harry Kenny praised the attitude and effort from his side, he said: "These lads didn't get to train together before the game so we focused on playing with freedom on the ball and being relentless off the ball. These are the values we instill in the players throughout all the FAI/ETB courses so we just reminded them to trust what they have learned on the course and to go out there and express themselves and that’s exactly what they did."
Republic of Ireland Men's Under-18 Head Coach Colin O’Brien was happy with the challenge the game provided for his young players. He added: "I felt it was a very beneficial excercise. International football is physically demanding and played at a high tempo and that's exactly what the FAI/ETB team brought today. Playing against older players that train in a full-time set-up and who play with that level of intensity is exactly what I was looking for from the game and it will stand to these lads."
The new FAI/ETB Player Development Courses are starting next month and applications are still open for some of the courses through the link below.
FAI/ETB squad: Conor Cummins, Mark Imeren, Pedro Malanda, Regan Lennon, Dean Larkin, Zayed Abada, Liam Kervick, Ross O'Brien, Davda Shatayo, Timmy O'Reilly, Owen Oseni, Conal Doran, Luke Brady, Ethan Fitzgerald, Lekan Oki, Matthew Butler, Ade Onifade, Evan Murphy, Josh Wilson, Alex Lee
Republic of Ireland MU18 squad: Ryan Delaney, Finn Cowper-Gray, Luke O'Brien, Lewis Temple, Sean McHale, Senan Mullen, Gavin Hodgins, James Byrne, Franco Umeh, Jason Folarin, Ryan McBrearty, Darius Lipsuic, Stephen Mohan, Liam Murray, Dan McHale, Gideon Tetteh, Pharrell Manuel, Darragh Murtagh, Ruadhan Kane, Fintan Doherty