England shatter Irish Schools side's title ambitions
This win now gives England the opportunity to claim a share of the honours with Northern Ireland should they go on and defeat Wales in their final fixture at Bristol Rovers FC next week.
The North finished their programme with a 3-0 win over Wales in Cardiff earlier this week and sit at the top of the table on nine points. While England are now trailing them by three points so a win in Bristol would pull them level and give them a share of the Centenary Shield.
The Republic opened their campaign with impressive wins over Wales and Northern Ireland but injuries to key players and a costly 1-0 defeat in Scotland gave them a six point finish and out of contention for honours.
A game of two halves saw the home side go in at the break holding a 2-1 lead. But a much brighter England quickly took control on the resumption and had established a comfortable 4-2 lead by the 67th minute.
A fifth goal in the closing minutes finally sealed the England win and ended the Republic’s campaign on a very disappointing note.
The Irish had threatened to go in front from a couple of early corners and it was no surprise when Evan Murphy (St. Enda’s College, Salthill) put them ahead with a first time finish from a well delivered Ronan Manning (Calasanctius College, Oranmore) corner on the left after 13 minutes.
England then began to come more into the game with the very skilful Frank Arhin becoming very influential in midfield.
Arhin’s pass set up the equaliser for Daniel Barlow who cut through the Irish defence and beat goalkeeper Paul Martin with a rising shot on 32 minutes.
But straight from the restart Ireland had re-established their lead with a fine individual effort from John Martin (Presentation De La Salle, Bagenalstown).
St. Aidan’s CBS scholar Steven Nolan went close to stretching the advantage just before the break only to see his shot go narrowly wide.
A much sharper England wasted little time in getting back on terms after the break. Three minutes in and Barlow had levelled with his second goal of the game when he beat St. Oliver’s CC student James Carroll on the left to cut in and hit a low drive that took a deflection off centre back John Mahon (Coola PPS) on its way past a helpless Martin.
It was all England now and the introduction of substitute Max Watters on 53 minutes gave more impetus to their attack and helped turn the tide in favour of the visitors.
Watters quickly made his presence felt by first setting up Kingsford Adjei to sweep home his low right wing cross and put England ahead for the first time in the game on 64 minutes and then going on to grab two goals himself.
His first came two minutes later with a neat finish from Barlow’s left wing cross. This was followed five minutes from the finish when Watters beat Martin with another fine finish for England’s comfortable 5-2 win.
Little was seen from a disappointing Irish side after the break with only Dunshaughlin CC pupil Neill Byrne coming close to testing ‘keeper Aidan Stone but he was bundled off the ball by Connor Shortt after his fine run took him into the England box.
Unfortunately a season that began so brightly for Paddy O’Reilly’s side with two decent wins and promised so much finished on a low note.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Paul Martin (Presentation De La Salle, Bagenalstown); James Carroll (St. Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda), Evan Murphy (St Enda’s College, Salthill), John Mahon (Coola Post Primary School. Sligo), Darryl Walsh (Captain) (St. Declan’s Community College), Alec Byrne (Carrigaline Community School), John Martin (Presentation De La Salle, Bagenalstown), Steven Nolan (St Aidan’s CBS, Whitehall), Neill Byrne (Dunshaughlin Community College), Ronan Manning (Calasanctius College, Oranmore), Conor Layng (Athlone Community College)
SUBS: Seán McDonald (Clonkeen College Blackrock) for Layng (60), Connor Gormley (Loreto Community School, Milford) for Murphy (68), Seán McBride ((St Columba’s College, Stranorlar) for Carroll (75), Jack Ryan (Templeogue College) for Byrne (85), Tunmise Sobowale (Mount Sion CBS, Waterford), Jamie Bell (St Columba’s College, Stranorlar), Vinny Quinlan (Gorey Community School).
ENGLAND: Aidan Stone (Wolgarston High School), Jean Luc Ramdin (Rohen College), Jordan Staten (Hartpury College), Dan Bayliss (The Henley College), James O’Halloran (Wrothem School), Jordan Ngalo (Portsmouth College), Kingsford Adjei (Hartpury College), Frank Arhin (Hartpury College), Shabhan Mohammad (Hartlepool College of Further Education), Daniel Barlow (Monkseaton High School), Jack Butler (King Edward VI High School).
SUBS: Max Watters (Shenfield High School) for Butler (53), Connor Shortt (Hartlepool College of Further Education) for Ngalo 68), Alex Hynes (Barton Pevrill Sixth Form College) for Adjei (89), Henry Watson (Cardinal Newman Sixth Form College), Max Harris (Hartpury College).
REFEREE: Oliver Moran (Dublin)