Turkey 1 - 2 Republic of Ireland | 2017 - Under 18 Friendlies | 999943488

Under-18 Mens Friendlies Slovakia Cup Tournament | Dunajska Luzna, Slovakia
Thursday, April 27, 2017

Turkey 1 - 2 Republic of Ireland

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VIDEO: Crawford delight as U18s beat Turkey

The Republic of Ireland Under 18s produced an impressive display to beat a top quality Turkey side in a dramatic encounter in the Slovakia Cup in Dunajska Luzna.
27th Apr 2017

Second-half goals by Cobh Ramblers defender James McSweeney and Stoke City striker Shola Ayoola secured second spot in the group for the Irish and sets up a third-place play-off with hosts Slovakia on Friday.

Turkey grabbed the opening goal after just 32 seconds when Muhayer Oktay fired to the bottom corner after some hestitant Irish defending was punished dramatically.

Despite that sloppy start to the first half Jim Crawford’s team soon settled down and held firm as the Turks pressed to add to their early advantage.

Ireland had a half-chance to level in the 34th minute when Aaron O’Driscoll got his head to a deep corner by Kian Flanagan but defender Recep Yemisci got a head on his effort to deflect it to safety.

In the 39th minute good link-up play saw Shamrock Rovers striker Dean Dillon feed St Patrick’s Athletic’s Aidan Keena on the right and his low cross was just too firmly struck for Dillon to get on the end of it.

Ireland levelled in the 48th minute when Anthony Scully took a quick corner to Kian Flanagan and he curled the ball in for the on-coming James McSweeney to arrive on cue to head brilliantly to the bottom corner.

Ayoola made a powerful run down the right in the 68th minute that was unfortunate not to produce more as keeper Memhet Ataberk saved bravely at his feet.

Drogheda United striker Thomas Byrne had a powerful strike save in the 73rd minute as play opened up in the final part of the game.

Turkey had a chance to snatch the win in the 80th minute when captain Abdulkadir Omur fired over from the edge of the box.

Instead it was Ayoola who grabbed the winner as he was in the right place to turn home brilliantly from an excellent right wing cross by Cork City’s Alec Byrne two minutes into injury-time in the game, which was played over 80 minutes.

"I was delighted with the character we displayed. To go a goal down in the opening seconds was a real blow but the lads showed real courage to settle things down and get back in the game," said Crawford.

"We had to defend resolutely for a long time but then we got in at the break just a goal down and we were really pleased with how the lads came out for the second half, scored an early equaliser then stood up to grab a late winning goal.

"These players hardly knew each other before this week together and some were still only joining up with the squad from their clubs after the first couple of days so it was a real test from day one and we’ve seen them grow as a team."

Republic of Ireland: McGinty; McKenna (T Byrne 41), Mollett, O’Driscoll, McSweeney (O’Hora 61); Nicell (A Byrne 41), Martin (Ayoola 68), Flanagan, Keena, Dillon (Scully 41), O’Sullivan (Keaney 41).

RESULTS & FIXTURES

Monday, April 24: Czech Republic 3-1 Republic of Ireland, Modranka
Tuesday, April 25: Republic of Ireland 0-0 Russia, Dunajska Luzna
Thursday, April 27: Republic of Ireland 2-1 Turkey, Dunajska Luzna
Friday, April 28: 3rd-4th play-off: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Jaslovske Bohunice (KO 10:00)