As they once again failed to take their chances, Tom Mohan’s young Ireland could have no complaints as a sublime goal from Marcus Edwards saw their journey at these Uefa U17 Championships in Bulgaria emphatically ended.
A talented England, the reigning champions, were fully deserving victors at the Beroe Stadium, and worthy of winning Group D to advance to the quarter-finals along with Italy, who secured the draw they needed against the Netherlands in the other pool game. Ireland finish bottom with one point and no goals despite their spirited efforts.
Edwards’ 71st minute goal was worthy of winning any match. Skilfully making room on the edge of the area, the Tottenham striker sent a rising shot past Caoimhin Kelleher and into the roof of the Ireland net.
“It was disappointing as we had some very good chances,” said Ireland boss Mohan. “We needed that first goal against such good quality opposition. At the same time, it’s been the story of our campaign, that, when we did create chances we weren’t clinical enough.”
As their 13 attempts to one suggested, England had the better of the first half.
The best of those England chances fell to Ike Ugbo whose shot was bravely blocked by Darragh Leahy, Ireland’s most impressive defender here this week. Kelleher then made the stop of the half with a one-handed save from Nathan Holland’s drive on 34 minutes.
Ireland’s only chance of the half came when Connor Ronan set up Josh Barrett who drilled wide across goal with no green shirt there to touch it home.
Ireland showed far more purpose on the resumption, blowing their best chance of the game three minutes in.
England keeper Paul Woolston could only parry Anthony Scully’s fierce drive. Jonathan Lunney looked set to score from the rebound, but his weak lob was hooked clear.
On 62 minutes Barrett set up Zackary Ebouzedi who drilled his shot wide.
“Our boys gave everything,” said Mohan. “Of course they are disappointed, but they did fantastically well to be here. I’m proud of them each and every one of them.”
Republic of Ireland:
Kelleher (Ringmahon Rangers); O’Keeffe (Birmingham), Masterson (Liverpool), Leahy (Coventry), McCourt (West Brom); Agyei-Tabi (Arsenal), Livingston (Wolves); Wade-Slater (St Kevin‘s), Ronan (Wolves), Lunney (Preston); Barrett (Reading). Subs: Scully (West Ham) for Wade-Slater (34), Ebouzedi (West Brom) for Livingston (58), Aherne (Lucan Utd) for Barrett (75).
Woolston; Yates, Oxford, Collinge (Sulliman, 49), Dasilva; Wright, Kane; Holland, Edwards, Ndukwu (Willock, h/t); Ugbo (Mavididi, 72).
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