Ireland beat Armenia to clinch UEFA U17s Championships progress
Armenia 0 Republic of Ireland 2
THE Republic of Ireland clinched their qualification for the elite phase of the UEFA U17 Championships a game early after a 2-0 victory over Armenia in Yerevan today.
Tom Mohan's side sealed their second win in as many games and are joint top of the group with England, who beat Gibraltar 8-0 in their game today. The Irish will meet the English on Tuesday to decide who tops the group.
Dundalk FC midfielder Georgie Poynton scored Ireland's opener from the penalty spot on the half hour and Wolves striker Jesse Devers added the second goal to wrap up the victory in the 59th minute.
Devers had a chance to snatch an opener after just 30 seconds but he fired narrowly over. The drama continued down the other end of the pitch as Armenia won a penalty in the second minute. Goalkeeper James Talbot was booked for taking down Robert Minasyan in the incident but then made a great save to keep out Hayk Galstyan's spot-kick before Minasyan hit the post from the rebound.
Ireland were awarded a penalty themselves on the half hour when Anthony Breslin's cross was handled by a home defender and Poynton stepped up to smash home the spot-kick.
After the break Ireland weathered some Armenian pressure before Devers ensured the three points with an angled finish to the roof of the net after keeper Suren Aloyan had parried an attempt by Corey Whelan.
Mohan was delighted with the victory and qualification. "It's really a sense of great relief to progress. We were up against the home nation in a game that had a cup final feel because it was winner takes all," he said.
"The players were fantastic. Armenia pushed a lot of bodies forward and were a completely different side than they were against England in their opening game.
"Our lads showed a lot of character to withstand the pressure at times. We had our chances as well but overall we showed great character throughout. it's a great feeling to be through.
"We knew they'd come at us. Our defence was solid and James Talbot was very good in goal. Our midfield kept the ball well and our wide players were very effective after the break. Steven Kinsella was tired so we changed him at half-time. He is a year younger than all the others so two games in such a short space of time took it's toll on him.
"I was pleased with our attacking players. Shane Elworthy was good and Alex Mulrooney-Skinner ran at them, causing them a lot of problms. Jesse Devers had great movement up front and showed great quality to finish his chance.
"We showed good decision-making under pressure. It was very important for them to experience that situation of 'winner takes all' and come through it.
"We've a recovery session tomorrow and we'll assess how the boys are. We will enjoy tonight for what it is worth then back to work tomorrow. We have to get prepared for Tuesday. It took England 32 minutes to break Gibraltar down but they ran out comfortable winners after that. They're a good side and it will be another good test for our lads who've worked so hard."
Mohan also paid tribute to the great work put hin by his staff in Yerevan: Mick Neville (coach), Dermot O'Neill (goalkeeper coach), John White (opposition scout & coach), Mickey Feeney (analysis), Dr Michael Moloney, John Flynn (physio), Robbie Hoey (kit), Alan Redmond (team executive) and Alex Harkin (delegate).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: James Talbot, Anthony Breslin, Dan Casey, Georgie Poynton, Shane Elworthy, Robert Duggan, Jesse Devers, Thomas Holland (Nathan Corkery 55), Corey Whelan, Steven Kinsella (Alex Mulrooney-Skinner 41), Evan Osam (Nathan Benson 76).
ARMENIA: Suren Aloyan, Armen Mikaelyan (Samvel Igityan 41), Davit Terteryan, Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Hovhannes Ilangyozyan, Robert Minasyan (Emil Yeghiazaryan 62), Hovhannes Poghosyan, Hayk Galstyan, Hakob Hakobyan, Arman Khachatryan, Mikhail Martirosyan (Hovhannes Panosyan 47).
Thursday, October 24
Republic of Ireland 4 Gibraltar 1, Yerevan (ARM).
Saturday, October 26
Republic of Ireland 2 Armenia 0, Yerevan (ARM).
Tuesday, October 29
Republic of Ireland v England, Yerevan (ARM) (12.00pm)