REPORT | Malta MU18 1-7 Ireland MU18
Head Coach Colin O'Brien made nine changes to his Irish side following the 0-0 draw on Tuesday with Shamrock Rovers attacker Michael Leddy and Cork City’s Cathal Heffernan among those introduced.
The hosts started the game with two early corners which were well cleared by the Irish defence. Ireland however were keen to attack and opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a smart finish by Mark O’Mahony into the bottom corner past Buttigieg.
Colin O’Brien’s men doubled their lead three minutes later with Michael Leddy rising highest to head home following a clever free kick.
A shell-shocked Malta sought a quick response with Irish goalkeeper Noah Jauny forced to cut out a dangerous cross in the 16th minute. Malta were awarded a penalty seven minutes later following a clash with Jauny who was forced off as a result. Substitute goalkeeper Conor Walsh was unable to save the resulting spot-kick with Malta captain Jake Micallef halving the deficit.
Ireland resumed their dominance and restored their two-goal lead in the 31st minute with. Mark O’Mahony adding his second, sweeping home a low David Toure cross. Both sides continued to showcase their attacking intent but the half ended 3-1 to the Boys in Green.
The second-half commenced with Ireland adding a fourth from the penalty spot. A handball allowed in the box allowed Mark O’Mahony to complete his hattrick from the spot. Ireland made it five minutes later with Jad Hakiki finding the back of the net.
Colin O’Brien introduced Bohemians Jamie Mullins and St. Patrick’s Athletics’ Tom Lonergan on the 53rd minute with Lonergan firing a dangerous shot wide six minutes later. Justin Ferizaj, Dara McGuinness and Sam Curtis were all introduced with 25 minutes remaining, adding energy to the Irish side.
Ireland added a sixth in the 74th minute with Jad Hakiki showing great skill in the middle of the field before finding Tom Lonergan and the Pat’s man found space to slot home. The hosts were denied a consolation as they saw a goal disallowed for off-side.
Substitute Alex Murphy made it seven, rising highest to head home from a corner in the final few minutes to round off a fantastic performance from Ireland.
Malta: Buttigieg, Ivin Farrugia, Gambin, Gatt, Micallef (C), Miguel Azzopardi, Cross, Caruana, Attard, Brooklyn Borg, Azzopardi
Substitutes: Beppe, Mattias, Andrew Borg, Apap Bologna, Grech, Galea, Gabriel Farrugia, Serri, Cope
Republic of Ireland: Jauny (Walsh ’23), Murphy (C), Ben Curtis, Heffernan, McManus (Ferizaj ’66), Ryan, Toure (Sam Curtis ’66), Gallagher (Mullins ’53), Hakiki, O’Mahony (Lonergan ’53), Leddy (McGuinness ’66)
International friendly results
Tuesday, December 7 | Malta MU18 0-0 Republic of Ireland MU18
Thursday, December 9 | Malta MU18 1-7 Republic of Ireland MU18