Ireland beat Gibraltar in UEFA U17s qualifying campaign opener
Republic of Ireland 4 Gibraltar 1
THE Republic of Ireland U17 side began their UEFA Championships qualifying campaign with a 4-1 victory over debutants Gibraltar in Yerevan, Armenia, today.
Head Coach Tom Mohan's side sits joint top of Qualifying Round Group 7 with England, who beat Armenia 4-0 in the other game today.
The Irish produced a dominant display with Templeogue United's Steven Kinsella producing a brilliant individual performance that saw him create three goals, win a penalty and add a goal himself.
Fulham's Shane Elworthy bagged a double but was unfortunate to have a second half penalty saved that would have given him a memorable hat-trick.
Ireland started well and created numerous chances – including Kinsella rocking an upright with a strike – before Gibraltar scored a shock opener against the run of play in the 17th minute. Target-man George Wink showed pace and strength to race onto a ball over the top before slotting the ball past the advancing Irish keeper James Talbot.
"It was a bit of shock to go a goal down after we had passed up three or four brilliant chances before they scored from their first attack," admitted Mohan.
"So often you can regret not taking your chances but we kept our composure. We kept passing it, kept getting the ball out wide, where our wingers were skinning their full-backs with Shane Elworthy and Steven Kinsella doing very well."
Manchester City's Tom Holland provided the equaliser in the 26th minute when he slotted the ball home after great creative play from Kinsella.
Kinsella then turned provider for Elworthy on the double. Elworthy knocking home in both the 31st and 36th minute from similar situations where he arrived at the back post to steer home from a Kinsella cross.
Goalkeeper Bradley Banda made an impressive save to push a 51st minute penalty from Elworthy around the post after Kinsella had been taken down by Ethan Jolley. Kinsella made it 4-1 in the 68th minute with a low strike after he cut inside and drilled home with low and hard strike.
"Steven Kinsella was outstanding for us. He created three goals, scored one, was taken down for the penalty and hit the post," added Mohan.
"We dominated the game but you're never happy until the game is out of site. Gibraltar were hard to break down and put a lot of bodies in the box. This was their first game at this level and they were always going to be up for it.
"The important thing is that we were aware that the first game can throw up a surprise if you're not right and they proved it by catching us. We responded really well and we're happy with three points out of the way. Our focus now is on the next game against Armenia on Saturday."
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: James Talbot, Nathan Benson (Evan Osam 74), Anthony Breslin, Dan Casey, Danny Kane, Georgie Poynton, Shane Elworthy, Robert Duggan (Nathan Corkery 61), Tom Holland, Steven Kinsella, Cemal Ramadan (Jesse Devers 41).
GIBRALTAR: Bradley Banda, Daniel Sanchez, Leon Payas (Luke Buxton 49), Leone Seatory, Ethan Jolley, Andrew Hernandez, Leon Clinton (Byron Espinosa 78), George Wink, Jules Origo (Jayce Consigliero 65), Jayce Mascarenhas-Olivero, Kevagn Ronco.
Thursday, October 24
Republic of Ireland 4 Gibraltar 1, Yerevan (ARM).
Saturday, October 26
Republic of Ireland v Armenia, Yerevan (ARM) (2.00pm)
Tuesday, October 29
Republic of Ireland v England, Yerevan (ARM) (12.00pm)