U21 | Review of 2021
The win keeps Ireland on course to become the first Ireland Under-21s to reach a European Championship.
This is the first full U21s campaign for Manager Jim Crawford. His first squad of the year against Wales included 18 players who had yet to appear at this level of international football and what followed was an impressive 2-1 win away in Wales – Jonathan Afolabi and an own goal earned the win that day.
In May they headed to Spain for a training camp where Crawford’s young Boys in Green took on two of Europe’s top underage sides Switzerland and Denmark and the Australian Olympic Football Team – the latter a 2-1 win thanks to a last-minute header from Ross Tierney.
Back-to-back away qualification games in September against Bosnia (2-0) and Luxembourg (1-1) saw Ireland come away with four points in their opening two games. Tyreik Wright opened the scoring from the spot before captain Conor Coventry netted his first ever goal for Ireland in the win over Bosnia. UCD’s Colm Whelan scored on his Ireland debut just minutes after his introduction in Luxembourg.
October saw Joshua Kayode and Coventry find the net in Tallaght Stadium where Ireland ran out 2-0 winners over Luxembourg – the first goals on Irish soil for the pair. This was followed by a 2-1 loss in Montenegro with defender Mark McGuinness scoring his first U21s goal.
The group’s top two Italy and Sweden came to town in November and while a man of a match display from Brian Maher wasn’t enough to stop the Italians running out 2-0 winners, days later Ireland ended the year on the highest highs.
With the game seemingly heading for a 0-0 draw after an excellent display from Ireland, an extraordinary pass from Coventry into Ollie O’Neill saw the Fulham man cut on his right and find the net at the near post.
That would be final kick of the game with the celebrations that followed going down as was one the great moments in international football at Tallaght Stadium.
26.03.21 | Wales 1-2 Ireland
30.05. 21 | Switzerland 2-0 Ireland
02.06.21 | Australia 1-2 Ireland
06.06.21 | Ireland 1-0 Denmark
03.09.21 | Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-2 Ireland
07.09.21 | Luxembourg 1-1 Ireland
08.10.21 | Luxembourg 2-0 Ireland
12.10.21 | Montenegro 2-1 Ireland
12.11.21 | Ireland 0-2 Italy
16.11.21 | Ireland 1-0 Sweden
2 - Conor Coventry
1 – Jonathan Afolabi, Joshua Kayode, Mark McGuinness, Oliver O’Neill, Ross Tierney, Colm Whelan, Tyreik Wright
10 – Gavin Kilkenny
9 – Conor Coventry, Brian Maher, Conor Noss, Tyreik Wright
8 – Will Ferry, Joshua Kayode, Mark McGuinness
7 – Lee O’Connor
6 - Jake O’Brien, Ross Tierney
5 – Joel Bagan, Evan Ferguson, Alex Gilbert, Ryan Johansson, Oisin McEntee, Louie Watson,
4 – Dawson Devoy
3 – Jonathan Afolabi, Luca Connell, Festy Ebosele, Andy Lyons, Conor Grant, Colm Whelan
2 – Shane Flynn, Andrew Moran, Will Smallbone
1 – Liam Kerrigan, Bosun Lawal, Mason O’Malley, Andrew Omobamidele, Lewis Richards, Dan Rose, Ethon Varian