Irish U15s lose unbeaten record to Finland in Friendly at Swords Celtic FC
Republic of Ireland U15 0 Finland 3
FINLAND’S U15 side inflicted the first defeat of the season on the Republic of Ireland U15 side at a wet and windy Swords Celtic FC this afternoon in what was the sides second friendly meeting in three days.
Irish coach Niall Harrison made ten changes to the starting line-up that won the corresponding fixture 1-0 at Oscar Traynor Center in Coolock on Tuesday night and while Ireland enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but a lack of precision in the final third cost them in the end.
Finland started the game brightly as Lucas Lingman and Omar Jama Ireland had decent attempts on goal in the opening minutes.
Ireland got their first chance of the game in the 12th minutes when Zachary Elbouzedi’s delivery took a deflection onto the head of Louis Dunne, however he failed to force the ball past goalkeeper Hugo Keto.
Finland scored the opening goal of the game a minute later thanks to a brilliant left footed finish from Lucas Lingman inside the box after the Finnish attacker produced some great skill to carve out the opening.
The Finns began to bombard the Irish goal with shots for the remainder of the half, and this pressure paid off as they went 2-0 up 13 minutes from the break.
A poor back-pass from an Irish defender was intercepted by Riku Tamminen, and he rounded the keeper before slotting home from a very tight angle.
Ireland held onto the ball well in the last few minutes of the half, but failed to make any major breakthrough, and they went in at the break trailing by two goals.
The home side made a couple of changes at the interval and they started the second half brightly, as Yousef Mahdy forced a brilliant save out of Keto in the Finland goal.
Keto’s opposite number Tommy Holland prevented his side from falling even further behind when he denied Mikko Jalkanen six minutes after the restart.
Three minutes later Ireland had another massive let-off when Niilo Maenpaa’s low driven free took a slight deflection before skimming by the post.
Ireland were very unlucky not to pull a goal back in the 63rd minute when substitute Robert McCourt shot narrowly wide. The St Kevin’s Boys FC defender showed some brilliant footwork to create a shooting opportunity inside the box, but he hit the side-netting.
Niilo Maenpaa sealed the victory for Finland with a goal five minutes from time. The midfielder headed in from a corner to wrap up the scoring.
Speaking after the game, Ireland coach Niall Harrison felt there were some positives to be looked at despite the poor performance.
“It wasn’t great. Losing a game 3-0 can’t be great, but we got what we wanted out of it, we wanted to have a good look at a few fellas today who hadn’t played too much during the season, and we did that and we know where they’re at now in comparison to the fellas who played on Tuesday night,” said Harrison.
“The wind caused a little bit of havoc and a bit of naivety in defending, and the Finns were better than us.
“It’s up to us now to put together a group to hand over to the Under 16 manager, so we’ll do that this evening and let him know what our thoughts are after the year.
“I think a few fellas after today’s game have done quite well, who we hoped would, and a few fellas that we hoped would didn’t do quite so well, so it gives a better idea of what players we think at this moment and time can go onto the Under 16 manager and he can look at them.
“Taking the season as a whole, if it was only about winning games, it would have been very good, because I wouldn’t have made all the changes that were made today, I would have had the same 18 in and the other fellas wouldn’t have gone home, but it’s not about that at U15 level, it’s about finding players that can play international football or have the potential to play international football.
“So the season has been good, it’s not nice to lose the last game, it’s not nice to lose any game, but we’ve got what we needed out of the U15 season, I think well be passing on a good group of players with some excellent players to the U16 manager.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Tommy Holland, Mikey Quigley, Jason McGee, Stephen Nolan, JJ Luney, Jake Doyle Hayes, Gareth Doherty, Louis Dunne, Avis Ganiyu, Zachery Elbouzedi, Yousef Mahdy. Subs: Josh Miller for Doherty 41; Robert McCourt for Stephen Nolan 42; Ross Tracey for Holland 52; Conor Levingston for Hayes 52; Mark Buckley for Mahdy 57; Jesse Stafford Lacey for Ganiyu 62; Ismael Diallo for Dunne 72.
FINLAND: Hugo Keto, Kalle Salmi, William Linndqvist, Saikou Ceesay, Oskari Nurminen, Omar Jama, Niilo Maenpaa, Mikael Soisalo, Lasse Lappalainen, Lucas Lingman, Riku Tamminen. Subs: Mikko Jalkanen for Lappalainen 41; Lahikainen Otto for Soisalo 41; Kaan Kairinen for Jama 58; Alfred Soderman for Nurminen 58; Joonas Sunderman for Ceesay 67; Samu Alanko for Tamminen 67.
REFEREE: Matthew Farrell.
(Report by Darragh O Thuama)