Following their opening victory over China, our U21 side played out a scoreless draw with one of the pre-tournament favourites, Mexico, in our second Group C contest at the Stade Parsemain this Thursday evening.
Mexico, who included many of the players who finished as runners-up in last year’s tournament, won their encounter with Bahrain by two goals to nil and provided us with a a much sterner test than our opening opponents.
With Aaron Connolly suffering with a bug, it was not surprising that manager Stephen Kenny chose to replace him with Norwich City striker Simon Power in his only change to the eleven that started the China game on Monday. Connolly did replace Power after the half-time break and was again prominent.
With both sides well nigh cancelling each other out, there were very few real chances with the closest to a goal being a Jairo Torres free-kick which crashed off the crossbar midway through the second half, while Adam Idah made a horrible mess of an excellent chance on seventeen minutes, screwing his shot wildly from six yards out.
Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher looked much more assured than he did on Monday while captain Jayson Molumby was perpetual motion personified in midfield. The silky technique and passing skills of midfielder Connor Ronan were a joy to behold and made him the standout player on the pitch.
In the earlier Group C contest, China defeated Bahrain by four goals to one. Ireland complete their Group C challenge against Bahrain in Stade Jules Ladoumegue at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, knowing victory will assure them of a semi-final place.
C Kelleher; L O’Connor, D O’Shea, C Masterson, D Leahy; J Molumby(C), C Coventry; Z Elbouzedi, C Ronan, S Power; A Idah.
A Connolly for Power 46′
A Drinan for Idah 83′
P W D L F A GD Pts
Ireland 2 1 1 0 4 1 3 4
Mexico 2 1 1 0 2 0 2 4
China 2 1 0 1 5 5 – 3
Bahrain 2 0 0 2 1 6 -5 0