Ireland U17 fail narrowly in Italy
Italy U17 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland U17
Padovan Stefano 36
The Republic of Ireland U17 team today made a brave bid to upset Italy before falling to a first half goal from Padovan Stefano in Casarano in the first of two friendly matches.
Ireland will play Italy again on Thursday as part of their preparations, under head coach John Morling, for the 2010 UEFA Championship elite qualifying phase in Greece next month.
Ireland came through the initial qualifying tournament of the Championship in Malta last September.
They will play Denmark, Latvia and Greece in Greece in the second elite qualifying phase of the Championship from March 23-28. The four teams will play in a round-robin tournament with the overall winners advancing to the UEFA Championship finals later this year.
Today's contest with Italy was ideal for Ireland as coach Morling made a number of changes in his squad from the September qualifiers with a view to expanding his options for the difficult qualifying tournament ahead.
Ireland performed well against Italy but were unable to wipe out the goal lead that Stefano gave Italy in the 36th minute.
The teams will meet again on Thursday in Nardo and the coach is expected to make further changes to the team as he continues to experiment with a view to identifying Ireland strongest eleven.
Republic of Ireland U17: Republic of Ireland U17: Conor O'Donnell (Ipswich Town), John Kavanagh (Ringmahon Rangers), Shane Griffin (Carrigaline United), Jamie Smith (Newcastle United), Joe O'Brien (Celtic), John McKeown (Belvedere), Kealan Dillon (Derby County), Kenny McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur), Will Hayhurst (Preston North End), James Murphy (Reading), Sam Byrne (St. Josephs Boys).
Substitutes: Sean Kavanagh (Belvedere) for Griffin (inj) 27, Barry Sheedy for Murphy and Darragh Lenihan (Belvedere) for Hayhurst at half-time, Colm Horgan (Salthill Devon) for Dillon and Luke Gallagher (Cherry Orchard) for McEvoy both 50 mins, Steven Smith (Arsenal) for O'Brien and Pierce Sweeney (Belvedere) for Jamie Smith 60 mins,
Friendly: Italy U17 v Republic of Ireland U17
Nardò (10.30 hrs)