Ireland U17 manager Colin O’Brien believes his young side will go into Monday’s UEFA Championship quarter-final against the Netherlands full of confidence.
Unlike last year, when the Boys in Green reached the last-eight despite losing 7-0 to Germany, Ireland racked up a second deserved win at St George’s Park on the trot to secure their spot.
Apart from one rare slip-up, when they allowed their limited opponents a sight on goal, Ireland were comfortably heading for the draw to seal a top-two finish from Group C.
Then Troy Parrott scored for a second game in a row by lofting a sublime free-kick home with 11 minutes remaining. His striker partner Adam Idah atoned from some earlier misses by bagging a second in stoppage time, ensuring they head into a tough tie against Group D winner Netherlands on a fine footing.
A lot of the players here were in Croatia with us at last year’s finals,” explained O’Brien.
“However, especially with young players, the look of joy on their faces at the end of this win showed they’ll be go into Monday in good spirits. The boys recovered from that defeat to Belgium by deservedly beating Denmark and now Bosnia. We could have scored earlier but Troy and Adam got the goals later in the game and we start preparing for the challenge against a talented Dutch side straight away.”
Ireland should have had the game wrapped up by the interval. Top scorer Idah missed two sitters inside the opening 10 minutes, firstly hesitating when clean through to allow goalkeeper Luca Kacavenda advance to smother and then smashed a shot over from a wide angle. Captain Nathan Collins had the ball in the net also only for his header to be ruled out for offside.
Ireland remained dominant after the break, with Jason Knight arrowing a shot across goal and beyond the far post two minutes into the second half and Idah forcing Kacavenda to go full stretch with another attempt. While the trend was maintained, with Idah lobbing an effort off the crossbar and Parrott stinging the palms of Kasavenda in goal, Ireland were almost undone.
Kristijan Stanic was allowed drift in from the left unmarked and fortunately for Ireland, his shot curled past the far post with goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran well beaten. Just as the game was heading for adraw, up popped Parrott for another superb cameo. When Ireland substitute Max Murphy was fouled 20 yards out, the Tottenham forward dinked his free the wall and into the top corner.
The 16-year-old was involved in the second goal, freeing Idah who brushed off his marker before stroking the ball home from 10 yards.
J Corcoran (Cherry Orchard); O McEntee (Newcastle Utd), N Collins (Stoke City), K Ledwidge (Southampton), L Connell (Bolton Wanderers); J Knight (Derby County), B Coffey (Celtic); T Wright (Aston Villa), S Brennan (Southampton), T Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur); A Idah (Norwich City).
M Murphy (Stoke City) for Connell (58 mins), C Thompson (Wolves) for Brennan (64 mins), M Walsh (Swansea City) for Wright.
L Kacavenda; E Muminovic (A Dokanovic h/t), D Islamovic, S Rankic, R Voloder; A Mehic, A Hasic, N Nikolic; A Saric (F Bacevac 59), K Stanic, M Memiševic (E Heric 73).