U16s defeat Portugal on their home patch
PORTUGAL U-16 1-2 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U-16
Connor Dimaio 18 Hugo Meira 43
Eoghan Stokes 30
The Republic of Ireland Under-16s registered a well-earned win over Portugal today at the Estádio Municipal das Caldas da Rainha.
Ireland raced into a two goal lead by the half-hour mark courtesy of strikes by Connor Dimaio and Eoghan Stokes, before Hugo Meira brought the hosts back into the contest early in the second half.
The performance and result were of huge encouragement to Ireland Head Coach John Morling who will use give his seven substitutes starting slots in Thursday's second part of the double-header.
It was Ireland's strong showing in the early exchanges that provided a platform for them to take control of the tie.
There looked little on when midfielder Connor Dimaio received the ball 25 yards from goal on 18 minutes but his ferocious drive rattled the net for the opener.
Ireland maintained their rhythm and were rewarded for that endeavour with a second goal on 30 minutes when Dean O'Halloran's cross was swept home by striker Eoghan Stokes.
It could have got even better for Morling's side five minutes later had Stokes not had his header batted away by Portuguese goalkeeper Joao Costa.
As expected, Portugal came at their visitors from the off in the second half and got on the scoresheet within three minutes of the restart.
Centre-back Hugo Meira was first to react when a free-kick whipped in from the flank and he swept the ball home from close-range.
The pressure continued from the hosts but Irish goalkeeper Peter Burke was on hand to keep his side in the lead with a series of saves.
"The first half display was excellent and we could have been further ahead by the break," said Ireland Head Coach John Morling afterwards.
"It was great to see the players' passing and movement create the amount of chances they did.
"Conceding the goal so soon after half-time was a disappointment but I thought our defending was brilliant and we deservedly won the game."
The second game of the week between the nations takes place on Thursday at the Estádio Municipal da Nazaré (11am).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U-16: Burke (Moville Celtic); Rainey (Bonagee Utd), Baba (Castlebar Celtic), Dempsey (Northend United), Mosely (Birmingham City); O'Halloran (Southend), Crowley (Aston Villa), C. Donnellan (Corinthians), O'Hanlon (St. Kevin's Boys); Dimaio (Sheffield United); Stokes (St. Kevin's Boys).
Subs: Mulhall (Stella Maris) for Dimaio (53 mins), Traynor (St. Joseph's Boys) for Rainey (58 mins).