Our Republic of Ireland U21 side secured another three valuable points with a one nil victory over Armenia in Yerevan at noon (4pm local time) on Thursday in their 2021 European Championship qualifying encounter. Despite the absence of 12 players who would normally be expected to feature in the squad, Head Coach Stephen Kenny, his coaching team of Keith Andrews, Jim Crawford and new goalkeeping coach Rene Gilmartin together with the playing squad all exuded an air of anticipation and confidence prior to the contest.
Their faith in their depleted squad was justified with Ireland being dominant for the majority of the contest. The winning goal, scored by Waterford winger Zach Elbouzedi, arrived after 63 minutes with our failure to add to the scoreline being the only concern. There was, understandably, a degree of nervousness attaching to the final eighteen minutes, following the receipt of a straight red card for captain Dara O’Shea which rules him out of the meeting with Sweden in Tallaght Stadium next Tuesday evening.
Gavin Bazunu made his debut in goals and was relatively untroubled while captain Dara O’Shea was joined in the back four by three further debutants, Nathan Collins, Danny McNamara and Thomas O’Connor all of whom coped comfortably. The midfield was anchored by the ever reliable Conor Coventry with Jason Knight lending his support. The skilful Connor Ronan was at the heart of our attacking options with wide players Gavin Kilkenny and goalscorer Elbouzedi also prominent. Adam Idah was the fulcrum of our attacking options and delivered an industrious performance.
Team: Gavin Bazunu; Danny McNamara, Nathan Collins, Dara O’Shea (C), Thomas O’Connor; Conor Coventry, Jason Knight; Gavin Kilkenny, Connor Ronan, Zack Elbouzedi; Adam Idah
Liam Scales for Ronan 77′
Jack Taylor for Kilkenny 81′
Aidan Keena for Idah 86′
Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu(Manchester City), Conor Kearns(UCD),
Defenders: Nathan Collins(Stoke City), Kameron Ledwidge(Southampton), Danny McNamara(Newport County on loan from Millwall), Thomas O’Connor(Gillingham on loan from Southampton), Corey O’Keefe(Macclesfield Town on loan from Birmingham City), Dara O’Shea(West Bromwich Albion), Liam Scales(UCD),
Midfielders: Jack Clarke(Aston Villa), Conor Coventry(West Ham United), Jason Knight(Derby County), Daniel Mandroiu(Bohemian), Connor Ronan(DAC Dunajska Streda on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jack Taylor(Barnet)
Wingers: Zackary Elbouzedi(Waterford), Danny Grant(Bohemian), Gavin Kilkenny(AFC Bournemouth), Simon Power(Ross County on loan from Norwich City)
Forwards: Adam Idah(Norwich City), Aidan Keena(Heart of Midlothian), Anthony Scully(West Ham United).
P W D L F A Pts
Ireland 6 4 1 1 8 2 13
Iceland 4 3 0 1 10 6 9
Italy 3 2 1 0 6 0 7
Sweden 3 2 0 1 9 3 6
Armenia 5 1 0 4 3 9 3
Luxembourg 5 0 0 5 0 16 0