REPORT | MU17 | Melia hat-trick inspires Irish win

REPORT | MU17 | Melia hat-trick inspires Irish win

Ireland Men's Under-17s got off to a flying start with a hugely impressive 4-0 win over Armenia in the first of their three home UEFA European Under-17 Championship Qualifiers.

A Mason Melia hat-trick and a fine Jaden Umeh strike earned all three points in a clash in which the young Boys in Green might have even had a couple more against the stubborn, hard working ,10-men of Armenia.

All three games were due to be played at Turner's Cross in Cork, but following a late pitch inspection today's clash was moved up the M8 to nearby Carrig Park, the home of Fermoy FC which in turn, caused an hour delay to kick-off.

Once the action got underway the young Irish side meant business, flying out of the traps. Umeh, having seen his older brother Franco bag a brace for the Irish Men's Under-19’s earlier in the day, looked to find the net for himself only to be denied by Armenia stopper Artem Davydov early on.

Following the relentless opening, in which Malaga’s Aaron Ochoa Moloney struck the crossbar with a free kick, Ireland went ahead with just 13 minutes played when the exciting Ike Orazi crossed from the left and was finished expertly by St. Patrick’s Athletic hitman, Mason Melia.

It was wave after wave of the Irish attack, with Umeh going close again just minutes later, as the Armenian rearguard struggled to deal with the fluid Irish attack, conceding a number of free-kicks in dangerous positions.

It wasn’t long before Ireland doubled the lead, and Umeh, got the goal their impressive performance deserved, curling in beautifully with his left foot from just inside the area to make it two.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with both Umeh and Emil Papikyan exchanging chances after the restart but with nothing to lose the visitors looked to the bench to wrestle the momentum in their favour making a triple sub just after the hour mark.

Armenia’s recovery mission was made almost insurmountable when, with 10-minutes remaining, frustration got the better of skipper Karen Hovakimyan who received his second yellow of the game.

Ireland took advantage of their numerical supremacy adding another two deserved late goals.

Melia was rewarded with his perseverance and hard-work when he got his second of the game smashing home from close range, before putting the icing on the cake with his third from the penalty spot, having seen Matthew Murray initially brought down, to top off a fine individual performance.

It’s a busy period for Colin O’Brien and his charges and will have to recover quickly as two difficult games are lurking on the horizon, starting with Iceland on Saturday who will be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Switzerland.

Ireland: Joe Collins, Kaylem Harnett, Luca Cailloce, James Roche, Harry McGlinchey, Luke O’Donnell (Rory Finneran, 68’), Matthew Moore (Niall McAndrew, 89’), Aaron Ochoa Moloney (William Martin, 68’), Ike Orazi (Matthew Murray, 78’), Jaden Umeh (Kyle Fitzgerald, 68’), Mason Melia

Armenia: Artem Davydov, Sergey Harutyunyan (Andranik Hakobyan, 64’), Vahe Karepetyan, Gagik Meloyan (Mayis Khachatryan, 83’), Davit Harutyunyan, Henzel Baghoyan (Aram Aharonyan, 57’), Karen Hovakimyan, Emil Papikyan (Arame Minasyan, 64’), Harutyun Musikyan, Aleks Galstyan (Anri Minasov, 64’), Gary Grigoryan

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