Ireland’s U21s defeated Armenia by 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night as Spurs striker Troy Parrott’s goal gave Stephen Kenny’s side the win.
The Boys in Green looked promising throughout and arguably could’ve won by a larger margin but had to settle for the narrow win as they look ahead to Sweden on Tuesday night.
Here’s how we rated Kenny’s kids after their victory over Armenia.
1) Caoimhin Kelleher – 6
The Liverpool goalkeeper is the current number three at Anfield so this was a rare chance at competitive action for Kelleher.
He made a couple of relatively comfortable saves throughout the game but was never truly tested by the Armenian attack.
Looked strong with the ball at his feet.
2) Lee O’Connor – 7
O’Connor was very much a player under scrutiny after his move from Manchester United to Celtic last week and the right back acquitted himself well in Tallaght.
The 19-year-old developed a nice partnership with Gavin Kilkenny on the right and was constantly working hard on the overlap to give the Bournemouth man another option – even if his deliveries were sometimes lacking.
Another who is looking confident working under Stephen Kenny.
4) Conor Masterson – 6
Another player who was in desperate need of competitive game time after failing to make the squad in any of QPR’s opening six Championship games.
Dealt with the odd long ball over the top very well and looks quiet composed on the ball, clipping it long on occasion to Connolly and Kilkenny on the flanks.
Alongside Dara O’Shea he looks comfortable and the pair dealt with any threats the Armenians threw at them.
A night he needed.
5) Dara O’Shea – 6
O’Shea has become a real leader under Stephen Kenny’s guidance and looks to be developing a solid partnership next to Conor Masterson in the Irish defence.
He looks like a very confident defender who takes no liberties on the ball, and his strength in the air was an asset to Ireland in both boxes.
A steady operator.
3) Darragh Leahy – 6
The sole League of Ireland representative in the starting XI for tonight’s game and very much the established first choice left-back for the 21’s at the moment.
Leahy didn’t do anything wrong necessarily but his link-up play with Aaron Connolly on the left wasn’t quite as polished as the pair on the opposite flank.
Wasn’t overly tested defensively.
8) Jayson Molumby (C) – 8 (Man of the match)
The captain of the side once again under Kenny, and so often he looked a leader, frequently looking for the ball and directing his teammates around the field.
Molumby is a box-to-box midfielder, something Irish sides of the past have lacked and his desire tonight was sensational, whether it be running back to help his defence or busting a gut to get up support of the attack.
The Millwall man’s workrate is evident both in and out of possession and although Connolly and Parrott may take the headlines this was a polished performance from Molumby.
A senior cap is inevitable at this rate.
6) Conor Coventry – 6
A calming influence in the middle of the park, whose base allowed Molumby to show his ability breaking into the box.
Coventry looked good in possession and displayed a strong range of passing frequently finding his teammates in green with the right ball.
Didn’t quite get the shine Molumby did but hardly put a foot wrong throughout the 90.
11) Aaron Connolly -8
The Brighton livewire was full of confidence after a tremendous week which saw him make his Premier League debut as well as bagging his first goal for the club in their Carabao Cup win over Bristol Rovers.
He started the game in strong fashion, his pace looking like it would cause problems whenever he was on the ball, with the goal coming from his pace and trickery on the left.
The Brighton man had his defender beaten every time he ran at him and even though he didn’t always make the right decisions in possession he looked every bit the prospect most believe him to be.
Only a matter of time before he becomes a part of the senior setup.
10) Troy Parrott – 7
The man everyone is talking about, it’s difficult to believe that Parrott was winning his first cap at this level.
The Spurs man eased his way into the game with a few nice touches and always looked dangerous, before opening the scoring thanks to a lovely finish from Connolly’s cut-back.
That seemed to give him confidence as he found space more frequently between the lines and linked well with Molumby and Connolly especially.
He had two more chances but failed to covert them and looked less lively as he moved into the number nine position.
A promising display
11) Gavin Kilkenny – 6
Kenny trusted the Bournemouth man in from the start, playing him on the right of his ‘raiders’ as he calls them, in behind Adam Idah up top.
Kilkenny was very tidy in possession and despite starting a little slowly grew into the game developing a nice partnership with O’Connor on the Irish right.
The Cherries midfielder was quieter in the second half and was forced to come inside a little more to find joy before being replaced in the 65th minute.
9) Adam Idah – 6
The Norwich man was on fire for the Boys in Green in their last qualifier against Luxembourg, scoring a brace as Ireland ran out 3-0 winners.
Idah didn’t have too many chances in the opening half with the ball failing to really stick with him, but was better in the second as he held the ball up with more frequency and linked with the three behind him more successfully.
It wasn’t Idah’s best display for his country but his power and strength up front are vital to how Kenny’s side play.
Zach Elbouzedi – 6
Elbouzedi was lively and another who worked very well alongside Lee O’Connor on the Irish right.
Daniel Mandroiu – 5
The Bohs man was his typical nonchalant self and had some nice touches and passes playing just off the front but failed to really influence proceedings.
Jonathan Afolabi – N/A
Not on long enough to rate.