Ireland U19s fall short in qualifiers: What happened and who impressed?

Ireland U19s fall short in qualifiers: What happened and who impressed?

How the Ireland under-19s fared in recent games.

The promising Ireland U19 squad travelled to Albania to play in the first stage of qualifying for Euro U19 2024.

Despite playing only three games, the group was full of ups and downs as the draw was not kind to Tom Mohan’s men.

Below we have a look at what happened and who you should be looking at in the future.

Ireland U19s Vs Albania

Ireland set out to continue their form against the hosts Albania.

Within the first few minutes, Celtic star Rocco Vata had a great attempt saved as he cut in from the left.

Franco Umeh then pounced on the rebound and found Naj Razi. The Shamrock Rovers star squared the ball expertly and found Mark O’Mahony lurking to tap it in.

Despite Ireland looking the better team, Albania carried a real threat on the break.

 It wasn’t long until Albanian attacker Erald Krasniqi broke through on goal. The man who plays for Heerenveen in the Netherlands expertly chipped Drogheda’s Andrew Wogan for the equaliser.

Ireland didn’t look fazed and continued to impress going forward. From a set-piece routine, Franco Umeh crossed in a beautiful ball which found the head of O’Mahony for his second.

 Just three minutes later Razi drove into the box and found his club mate Cory O’Sullivan on the left-hand side. The left-back crossed and Umeh directed his header into the bottom right corner.

A well-deserved 3-1 victory to kick off the campaign.

Ireland U19s Vs Slovenia

Despite having no way to watch the match (thanks Albanian FA), The MU19s played Slovenia next who had just drawn against Belgium.

Ireland’s only change came in the form of James McManus in for Darius Lipsuic, however, it took Ireland a while to get going.

As per, Slovenia looked dangerous from set-pieces but couldn’t fashion a chance.

Then the midfield pairing of McManus and Romeo Akachukwu rose to prominence as Ireland grew into the game.

Both O’Mahony and Umeh came close but it remained scoreless at the break.

The second half seemed slower in tempo and Ireland only garnered opportunities from set-pieces, while Wogan in goals was only busy in the first few minutes of the half.

The full-time whistle blew with both teams unlucky not to score, but, a draw hard-earned for their efforts.

Ireland U19s Vs Belgium

It all came down to this for the youngsters in green. A win would guarantee first place, but anything else would depend on whether Slovenia could beat the Albanians.

After 20 minutes, it was Belgium who looked the better side. Andrew Wogan did excellently to keep Fernandez-Pardo’s strike out of the net.

Ireland then grew into the half with O’Mahony and Akachukwu coming close to breaking the deadlock.

Ireland were top of the group at half-time, however, a minute into the second half Tristan De Greef scored. The goal was set up by Muzambo who had just come onto the pitch.

Belgium defended resolutely and unfortunately, the Euro dream was over for the lads.

Who Impressed?

Despite the disappointment, there were still plenty of players who showed their class.

Franco Umeh (Crystal Palace)

Despite not starting the final game against Belgium, he stood out massively in the first two games of the group. He just had to be included.

He was massively involved in all three goals Ireland scored and dazzled on the wing where he was unlucky not to be involved in more goals. Just like they did at Cork, Umeh and the next man continued to show how well they linked up together.

Mark O’Mahony (Brighton)

Mark O’Mahony carried his exploits in the Premier League 2 over to Albania where he scored a brace in the first game of qualifying.

Not only did his goalscoring ability stand out, he held the ball up brilliantly and switched play numerous times.

His hard work and link-up play remained consistent and brought Ireland up the pitch where he was unlucky to find the back of the net.

Andrew Wogan (Drogheda)

Despite only being 17 years old, the goalkeeper started 18 times in the Premier Division this season.

He showed why as he kept out Slovenia as they threatened massively in periods of the game.

Wogan also kept Belgium scoreless despite some great strikes from the Belgian attackers. It seems every age group has a promising goalkeeper and Wogan is certainly up there with the rest.