REPORT | MU17 | Ireland qualify for the Elite Round

REPORT | MU17 | Ireland qualify for the Elite Round

Ireland Men’s Under-17s have qualified for the Elite Round of the UEFA European Championship Qualifiers following a 0-0 draw at Turner’s Cross today.

The young Boys in Green had plenty of chances to win the contest but in miserable conditions on Leeside that saw the game moved two hours earlier to avoid it taking place amidst the wrath of an Orange Weather Warning, Ireland were able to secure the point that sent them through.

A 7-1 win for Iceland over Armenia in the group’s other game meant a couple of Switzerland goals would have seen Iceland through on goal difference at Ireland’s expense. But Colin O’Brien was able to guide his team to the Elite Round, something he has been able to achieve on each occasion as MU17s Head Coach.

And O’Brien can take pride in his class of 2023 who went toe-to-toe and more with a Switzerland team that had scored eight goals in two games before the match-day three showdown at The Cross.

Following a 0-0 draw on Saturday evening, Ireland wearing white and the designated away team, were intent on taking all three points from the visitors. Ike Orazi came back into the team and he was joined by returns for Rory Finneran and Taylor McCarthy.

The wet conditions almost aided Switzerland in the 15th minute when a corner slipped out the hands of Joe Collins but his teammates were on hand to block the loose ball that would have certainly resulted in a Swiss opener.

Ireland were disciplined against the visitors and towards the half-hour mark they began to get more joy in attack with Orazi the focal point to the Irish threat.

His corner in the 34th minute almost resulted in an opener. A routine straight from the training ground saw a low ball played to the edge of the area where Niall McAndrew was left in space. However the Derby County man’s first-time strike just went over the bar.

Switzerland came out on the front foot in the second half and it was they who had the best chance. Dion Cakolli managed to engineer some space for himself inside the box and with his trickery leaving Irish players flat footed it was a late block that denied an almost certain goal with just a corner conceded.

Just after the hour mark Ireland could and should have taken the lead. Jaden Umeh was left free inside the area but his headed attempt lacked power and couldn’t be directed on target.

Ireland began to pile on the pressure, Taylor McCarthy saw his goal-bound header hooked off the line and Mason Melia saw a free header fall harmlessly into the hands of Lionel Huwiler in the Swiss goal.

In the 70th minute Huwiler pulled off a stunning save to keep it at 0-0. Luke O’Donnell made an incredible run down the right, his cross fell to McGlinchey who stood it up for an Irish head but it fell to Finneran whose effort looked to be in but Huwiler somehow kept it out with a one-handed save.

As news came through of Iceland’s late flurry of goals the teams seemed content with the point and as the full time whistle blew both sides knew they’d be into the Elite Rounds in Spring. Ireland will have to wait until to December to see who they meet.

Switzerland: Huwiler, Niedermann, Kospo (C), Akahomen, Volken, Aguilar, Kabashi (Cassese, 65’), Rufener, Tairi, Vasovic (Simic, 75), Cakolli (Guido, 65’)

Ireland: Collins, Harnett (Coffey, 84), Cailloce, Roche, McCarthy, McGlinchey, Moore (C), Finneran, McAndrew (O’Donnell, 61), Orazi (Umeh, 56), Melia

Referee: Jakob Alexander Sundberg (Denmark)

UEFA European Under-17 Championship Qualifiers – Round One

Wednesday, October 11 | Ireland MU17 4-0 Armenia MU17
Saturday, October 14 | Ireland MU17 0-0 Iceland MU17
Tuesday, October 17 | Switzerland MU17 0-0 Ireland MU17

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