Republic of Ireland U21 Head Coach Jim Crawford saw his team commence their 2023 European Championship Group F qualifying campaign with a two nil victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina in Zenica this Friday afternoon. Save for one lapse which could have proved costly, Ireland gave a well disciplined and organised performance and were fully deserved of the victory. With this group of players playing their first competitive match the first half was rather cautious with neither side offering any real attacking threat. Ireland dominated the early stages of the second half and took the lead on 52 minutes through an excellent penalty conversion by Tyreik Wright after Joshua Kayode had been felled in the penalty area. The hosts did offer an improved effort thereafter but the Irish defence stood firm with centre backs Oisin McEntee and Jake O’Brien in calm control. Having weathered the breeze (no storm), Ireland regained the initiative and scored the second goal through captain Conor Coventry following a brilliantly conceived corner kick routine. There were some eye catching performances from Gavin Kilkenny, who was the outstanding player on the pitch, and Ross Tierney.
In the other Group F matches, top seeds Italy defeated their visitors Luxembourg by three goals to nil while second seeds Sweden take on their hosts Montenegro at 7.30pm.
Ireland will then take on Luxembourg at 3pm on Tuesday afternoon in Dudelange while Bosnia & Herzegovina entertain Sweden at 3.30pm and Italy play host to Montenegro at 4.30pm.
Team: Brian Maher, Andy Lyons, Oisin McEntee, Jake O’Brien, Will Ferry; Conor Coventry, Gavin Kilkenny; Tyreik Wright, Ross Tierney, Louie Watson, Joshua Kayode
Conor Noss for Watson 80′
Lee O’Connor for Ferry 83′
Evan Ferguson for Kayode 83′
Ryan Johansson for Coventry 88′
Goalkeepers: Sam Blair (Norwich City-on loan at Bury Town), Brian Maher (Bray Wanderers), Daniel Rose (Schalke 04)
Defenders: Joel Bagan (Cardiff City) Andy Lyons (Bohemian), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Anselmo Garcia McNulty (Wolfsburg), Jake O’Brien (Crystal Palace), Lee O’Connor (Glasgow Celtic), Ronan Boyce (Derry City)
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemian), Ryan Johansson (Sevilla- on loan at Fortuna Sittard), Gavin Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth), Andrew Moran (Brighton & Hove Albion), Conor Noss (Borussia Monchengladbach), Ross Tierney (Bohemian), Louie Watson (Derby County)
Forwards: Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Will Ferry (Southampton-on loan at Crawley Town), Joshua Kayode (Rotherham United), Oliver O’Neill (Fulham), Colm Whelan (UCD), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa-on loan at Salford City)
P W D L F A G/D Pts
Montenegro 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4
Sweden 1 1 0 0 6 0 6 3
Italy 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
Ireland 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 3
Bosnia&Herzegovina 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
Luxembourg 3 0 0 3 1 11 -10 0