U19s kick off shield bid with English encounter

CHAMPIONS Ireland bid to advance a little closer to their third consecutive Centenary Shield (Schools U19 soccer) honours when they play England at Turner’s Cross tonight (7pm).

Ireland were elected full members of the Schools International Board in 2002 and confirmed their status by defeating England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in their first competitive matches.

Last year they retained the trophy when they beat Northern Ireland 2-1 in their final match at Century Homes Park and a 4-1 win over Scotland last week suggested they are well capable of repeating previous successes.

Manager John Michael Porter has made two changes to the side that defeated Scotland in Banff for tonight’s match.

Cork City player Aaron Kearney replaces Stephen Folan (CBS Limerick) and Paul Given (St Columba’s Stranorlar) is recalled in place of Shane Roche (New Ross) in goal. Given is a brother of Ireland’s international goalkeeper Shay.

Ireland’s record in the competition is remarkable. Between competitive and friendly matches they have lost only three matches over the past six years.

The team showed excellent form against Scotland in appalling weather conditions and manager Porter said: “The lads played superbly. They dug in and fashioned a victory by keeping the ball on the ground with excellent close passing in the high winds.”

England have played twice in the current competition and they lost to both Scotland and Northern Ireland so Ireland will be favourites.

Schools in the Cork area were given free tickets for the match and with free admission for children, and adults charged just 5 a big attendance is expected.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND squad: M Boyle, (St Eunan’s Letterkenny); S Roche, (Good Counsel New Ross); P Given, (St Columba’s Stranorlar); S Folan, (CBS Sexton Street Limerick); A Kearney (Colaiste Choilm Ballincollig); J Maleedy (Greendale CS Dublin); I Ryan, (Terenure College, Dublin); S Le Strange, (Rathmines VEC, Dublin); C Gaule, (Summerhill College Sligo); C McMahon, (Portmarnock CS, Dublin); J Chambers, (Drimnagh Castle); S McCabe, (St Mary’s College, Dundalk); G Deegan, (Chanel College Dublin); A Rooney, (Palmerstown CS Dublin); D Carroll, (Palmerstown CS Dublin); T Purcell, (Colaiste Mhuire, Johnstown, Co Kilkenny); J Douglas, (St Brendan’s, Bray); C Green, (St Eunan’s Letterkenny); R Davis, (Newpark Comp, Dublin); C Gallagher, (Pobalscoil Gweedore).

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