Group Five of the 2019 European U21 Championship campaign is still in it’s very early stages, but our opening victories over Kosova in Dublin and Azerbaijan in Baku see us head the fledgling points table. Our opening contest resulted in a one nil victory over newcomers Kosova in Tallaght Stadium with Reece Grego-Cox of QPR the goal scorer. Grego-Cox was again on target in Baku with fellow QPR player Ryan Manning scoring twice in a three one victory.
We now enter into a home double header in Tallaght Stadium against Norway on Thursday the 5th October 2017 at 7.45pm and Israel on Monday the 9th October 2017 at 3.30pm before travelling to face Norway on Tuesday the 14th November 2017. Head Coach Noel King has named a twenty four man squad for the upcoming Dublin contests.
The squad includes goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, named in Manchester United’s extended Champions League squad, Declan Rice who is currently making waves at West Ham United and his club colleague Josh Cullen who is on loan at Bolton Wanderers. Also in the squad are Conor Shaughnessy who is in regular action with Leeds United and midfielder Conor Ronan with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Midfielders, Jake Doyle Hayes of Aston Villa and Dessie Hutchinson with Brighton & Hove Albion have both seen first team action this season while the QPR trio of Olamide Shodipo, Reece Grego Cox and Ryan Manning have all experienced first team action at various stages. Burton Albion loanee Ryan Delaney with Cork City and Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers have both been catching the eye in the Airtricity League and domestic cup competitions this season.
Our U19 side, guided by Head Coach Tom Mohan, began preparation for the qualifying stage of the 2018 European Championship with a home double header against the Czech Republic played on Saturday and Monday the 2nd and 4th of September 2017 at the RSC in Waterford. Ireland secured two one victories in both contests.
Our European Qualifying opponents were Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Serbia and we hosted the mini-tournament in the RSC Waterford and Ferrycarrig Park in Wexford.
Ireland were held to a disappointing scoreless draw by Azerbaijan in their opening encounter but recovered to secure a five nil victory over Cyprus and then secure top position in the group with a three one success over Serbia.
Preparation for the qualifying stage of the 2018 European Championship commenced with an away double header against FYR Macedonia on Friday and Sunday the 1st and 3rd of September 2017. A two nil victory in the opening contest was followed by a scoreless draw in the second match.
Our European Qualifying opponents were Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Ukraine and we travelled to Bulgaria, who hosted the mini-tournament earlier this month.
Ireland got off to a flying start with a six nil drubbing of Azerbaijan and followed that with a three nil success over hosts Bulgaria before gathering maximum points with a three one defeat of Ukraine.
Star of the show was Norwich City striker Adam Idah who scored three, two and two goals for a total of seven in those matches.
Our U16 side, under the guidance of Head Coach Paul Osam, travelled to Romania and went down to three one and two one defeats by their hosts in two friendly encounters on Tuesday and Thursday the 19th and 21st of September 2017.
The squad next travelled to Belfast to participate in a Quadrangular Tournament where they defeated the hosts Northern Ireland with the only goal, scored by Troy Parrott, on Monday the 23rd October 2017. There then followed a two all draw with Wales on Wednesday the 25th before a two nil success over Scotland on the 27th October ensured that we retained the Trophy which we won in Scotland last year. Matt Everitt and Armstrong Oko-Flex were the scorers in both of those contests.
Our fledgling U15 side, under the guidance of Head Coach Jason Donohue, will commence their international careers with a double header against visitors Poland on Tuesday the 14th and Thursday the 16th November 2017.
Colin Bell, Head Coach of our Senior Women’s international team, continued his tenure in two friendly internationals, a scoreless draw against Iceland in Tallaght Stadium on the 8th of June 2017 followed by a one nil defeat by Scotland in Kirkcaldy on the 7th of July 2017.
Ireland then commenced their 2019 World Cup Qualifying campaign with a two nil victory over Northern Ireland in Lurgan on Tuesday the 19th September 2017. Left back Megan Campbell of Manchester City Ladies created the opening goal with one of her trademark long throws which found the net via the head of a defender and then struck a powerful shot from twenty five yards for the second goal. Campbell is the grandaughter of the recently deceased member of the ‘Dubliners’ Eamonn Campbell.
Ireland followed up that opening victory with another two nil success, against Slovakia in Senec on Tuesday the 24th October 2017. First half goals from Denise O’Sullivan and a deflected shot from skipper Katie McCabe put Ireland in command and they contained their hosts in exemplary fashion thereafter.
Next up is another daunting away trip, this time to top seeds Holland, on Tuesday the 28th of November 2017.
Our Under 19 Women, led by Head Coach Dave Connell, travelled to Austria to compete in a Triangular Tournament in mid September where they drew one each with hosts Austria before losing to the only goal from Hungary in the second contest.
The draw for the qualifying stage of the 2018 European Championship saw Ireland drawn in Group Six alongside mini-tournament hosts Holland together with Estonia and Latvia.
Ireland commenced their mini-tournament campaign with three nil victories over Estonia and Latvia in their opening two encounters, which guaranteed their progress to the next Elite Stage, before suffering a crushing eight one derfeat by the powerful hosts in their final group encounter.
In addition to our senior women, Colin Bell is also Head Coach to our U17 side and his squad travelled to Zenica, capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina where, they secured three victories to top Group Four of the qualifying stage and progress to the next Elite Stage of the 2018 European Championship.
Fixtures Sunday 24th September:- Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-1 Ireland - Romania 1-1 Greece Wednesday 27th September:- Ireland 2-0 Romania - Greece 0-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina Saturday 30th September:- Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-0 Romania - Greece 0-2 Ireland
UEFA Champions League
Following their first leg one all draw in Oriel Park, our UEFA Champions League representatives Dundalk exited the 2017/2018 competition with a two one extra time defeat by Norwegian Champions Rosenberg in the second leg played in Trondheim.
UEFA Europa League
Our 2017/2018 UEFA Europa League representatives Cork City and Shamrock Rovers both exited the competition at the second round stage. Following their one nil home defeat in the first leg, Cork City went down to another one nil defeat by AEK Larnaca in Cyprus while Shamrock Rovers followed their three two first leg home defeat with a two nil defeat by Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic.
Despite quite a run-in stutter, Cork City eventually lifted the 2017 Airtricity League title with three matches to spare. The ‘Leesiders’ were followed home in second place by defending champions Dundalk while the third and fourth positions went to Shamrock Rovers and Derry City respectively. The battle to avoid relegation continued to be a dogfight to the end with Sligo Rovers, Galway United and St Patrick’s Athletic battling to avoid the drop on the final fixture day, following the earlier relegation of Drogheda United and Finn Harps. The axe finally fell on Galway United who suffered a four three defeat by Dundalk in Eamonn Deasy Park.
Waterford have won the First Division and will join the Premier Division next season.
FAI Challenge Cup
The 2017 FAI Challenge Cup Final will be a repeat of last year, with Cork City facing Dundalk in the Aviva Stadium on Sunday the 5th November 2017. At the semi-final stage, holders Cork City secured a hard fought one nil success over Limerick in Turners Cross on Friday the 29th September while the second semi-final saw Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers play out a one all draw in Oriel Park on Sunday the 1st October before the ‘Lilywhites’ secured their passage to the final with a four two extra-time replay victory on Tuesday the 10th October in Tallaght Stadium.
EA Sports Cup
The final of the 2017 EA Sports Cup took place in Tallaght Stadium on the afternoon of Saturday the 16th September and saw Dundalk lift the trophy with a three nil victory over Shamrock Rovers.