Skippering his side to next July’s Uefa finals in Lithuania is his ultimate aim, which will only be possible if they can claim one of the top-two places in the four-nation group.
With Germany to come in their last game next Tuesday, Ireland will seek maximum points from today’s contest and the follow-up on Saturday against Macedonia to secure their passage with that daunting duel to spare.
IRELAND UNDER-19 (probable): Lawlor (Manchester City); B Lenihan (Cork City), Sweeney (Reading), Hoban (Watford, capt), Garmston (West Brom); Drennan (Aston Villa), Gallagher (Burnley), Coombes (St Patrick’s Athletic), Grealish (Aston Villa); Wilkinson (Millwall), Byrne (Manchester Utd).
Dockrell named player of the year by cricket writers
CRICKET:George Dockrell was last night named as the Cricket Writers of Ireland player of the year at an awards ceremony in Malahide Cricket Club.
Recently named the ICC Associate player of the year, the 20-year-old left-arm spinner took 37 wickets at just 14.27 in 25 international appearances during the year. He also enjoyed a fine breakthrough season in first-class cricket with Somerset, taking 34 championship wickets as the county finished runners-up to Warwickshire in Division One.
The young player of the year award went to Instonians’ James Shannon, while the club award went to Jonny Thompson.
The performance of the year went to Paul Stirling for his match-winning knock against Afghanistan in the World Twenty20 qualifier final in Dubai, while Clare Shillington received recognition for becoming the first women’s international to win 100 caps.
Gerry Duffy and Brendan “Ginger” O’Brien, the father of present internationals Niall and Kevin, were both inducted into the Hall of Fame.
– EMMET RIORDAN
Whelan is new vice-chaiman of Six Nations Council
RUGBY:Former Ireland hooker Pat Whelan has been announced as the new the vice-chairman of the Six Nations Council, under one-time England captain Bill Beaumont. The appointments were ratified in Rome yesterday, where Whelan and the chairman began their three-year terms with immediate effect.
Whelan, from Limerick, won 19 caps for Ireland between 1975 and 1981 and has been a lifelong Garryowen club member. He also represented Munster and was a member of the side that defeated New Zealand in 1978 in Thomond Park.
He has played key roles in various administrative positions within Irish rugby, including as selector and manager to the Ireland team, and was instrumental in the development of the professional game here.