Birthday-boy Murray eyes three points against Romania

Three points against Romania in today’s Uefa Championship U21 qualifier is the birthday present of choice for Ireland winger Sean Murray.

Birthday-boy Murray eyes three points against Romania

After winning their opening tie in the Faroe Islands, Ireland were last month throttled by top seeds Germany in Sligo. Second spot in the group, and with it a probable play-off shot at reaching the 2015 Euro finals, is the target set by the Watford winger.

To maintain that objective, Murray feels victories are required over the next five days against the pool’s second seeds away and then at home. The Londoner, 20 today, is in upbeat form ahead of the first meeting in Piatra Neamt (5.30 Irish time).

“Our aim is second place in the group behind Germany, so we have to be winning the matches against Romania,” said the Londoner, who declared for Ireland at 16 through his grandparents from Cabra in Dublin.

“This is fairly much the same squad that reached the semi-finals of the U19 European Championship, so there’s a winning mentality amongst us.”

Harry McCue, Interim Ireland boss for these games in place of Noel King, is set to hand defender Charles Dunne, recently bought by Blackpool on a pre-contract from Wycombe Wanderers for €400,000, his first Ireland cap.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s U19s put one foot in the next phase of the UEFA qualifiers by beating 10-man Azerbaijan 2-0 in yesterday’s opener of the first phase series in Sweden.

Aberdeen striker Alan O’Sullivan poked home a 23rd minute opener before Alex O’Hanlon of Liverpool settled the contest with a second seven minutes from full-time.

Victory tomorrow over mini-group hosts Sweden would guarantee Ireland’s passage into the elite phase.

IRELAND U19: Grimes (Leeds); Long (Reading), Baba (Fulham), McFadden (Norwich), Moseley (Birmingham); Mulroney (St Pat’s Ath), Browne (Cork City), Wixted (Derby); O’Halloran (Fulham), O’Sullivan (Aberdeen), O’Hanlon (Liverpool). Subs: S McCarthy (Sunderland) for Wixted (18), L Kelly (Reading) for O’Halloran (75).

IRELAND U21 (probable): A McCarey (Wolves); C Dunne (Wycombe), S Duffy (Yeovil), D Williams (Bristol City), S McGinty (Sheff Utd); M Doherty (Wolves), C Reilly (Birmingham); A Forde (Wolves), C Smith (Watford), S Murray (Watford); A O’Brien (Millwall).

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