U17 practice matches prove a success
Republic of Ireland Under-17 Head Coach John Morling was pleased by the two productive friendly matches his squad contested this week at Oriel Park in Dundalk.
The cold snap meant original plans to stage the games on December 27 and 28 had to be rescheduled for this week when Belevdere and Dundalk Youths provided the opposition for his 19 players.
In order to broaden his options, Morling chose to assemble players outside of the 18 squad members which had been involved in September when Ireland progressed from their UEFA preliminary phase group hosted by Malta with victories in their opening two matches over the hosts and Croatia.
With a double-header friendly set for early February as final preparation for the UEFA Elite phase qualification mini-group in Greece from 23-28 March, this get-together was essential for Morling to assess the personnel at his disposal.
"These two matches were an opportunity for new lads to impress and push for inclusion in the friendlies next month and the elite qualifier in March," said Morling.
"We had a mixture of home-based and UK-based players with us this week and they will each get ample game-time to be assessed.
"Some of these players were unavailable earlier in the season due to injury or may have developed further in recent months and they deserve to be considered.
"I was delighted with the exercise. Assembling 19 players at this time of year can be difficult due to the weather but they showed a good attitude on and off the pitch over the two days."
The Ireland selection won both games but had to come from behind in each. Monday's match saw Ireland defeat Belvedere 2-1 while they accounted for Dundalk on a 5-2 scoreline following day.
Jamie McGlynn gave Belvedere an interval lead with a superb curled shot before Leicester City striker Jack Nardiello and Barry Sheedy of Kilmallock United each scored to turn the game in the second half.
Dundalk hit the front in the second game when starts were given to all eight substitutes named for their previous day's fixture.
Ipswich Town striker Carl Tiofack equalised from the penalty spot following a foul on Sami Ade Osobe in the box before Will Hayhust of Preston North End sent Ireland into the 2-1 lead at the break.
The home side levelled ten minutes into the second half but Sam Byrne regained the lead before Ryan Coombes and Ciaran Doyne extended the margin of victory to 5-2.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U-17: Danny Rogers (Cherry Orchard), Colm Horgan (Salthill Devon), John Kavanagh (Ringmahon Rangers), Conor Qualter (Leeds United), Thomas Paul (Blackburn Rovers), Sami Ade Osobe (Preston North End), Barry Sheedy (Kilmallock United), Ryan Coombes (Cherry Orchard), Sam Byrne (St. Joseph's Boys), Carel TioFack (Ipswich Town), Will Hayhurst (Preston North End), Jamie White (QPR), Luke Gallagher (Cherry Orchard), Michael Hyland (Southend United), Joe O'Brien (Celtic), Ian Lawlor (Manchester City), Jack Nardiello (Leicester City), Shane Griffin (Carrigaline United), Ciaran Doyne (St. Kevin's Boys), Paul Donnellan (Home Farm).