Republic of Ireland U-21s held by Norway

League of Ireland pair Kevin O’Connor and Brandon Miele make debut for Noel King’s side

Republic of Ireland Under 21 manager Noel King. Photograph:  Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Republic of Ireland Under 21 manager Noel King. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Republic of Ireland 0 Norway 0 The Republic of Ireland completed 2015 with a stalemate against a powerful Norway side at the Waterford RSC last night.

Just four days after their European qualification ambitions took a hit with defeat in Lithuania, manager Noel King handed debuts in this friendly encounter to League of Ireland duo Kevin O’Connor and Brandon Miele, as well as Birmingham City’s Noe Baba.

Both sides had their chances to win the contest, with Conor Wilkinson and Sean Kavanagh coming closest to earning victory for the home side.

Everton’s Harry Charsley, making his first start at this level, was Ireland’s brightest spark during the first half.

After firing wide on nine minutes, he had the ball in the net five minutes later only for the effort to be ruled out for offside in a tight call.

Norway, second in their Euro qualification group behind England, showed their threat on 20 minutes when Eric Grimes spilled Alexander Sorloth’s shot but Iver Fossum smashed the rebound over the crossbar from six yards.

Having survived that scare, the Irish rallied to create the best opportunity of the first half.

Fulham winger Kavanagh, who was sent-off in Vilnius last Friday, unleashed a crisp 25-yard shot on the half hour which Per-Kristian Bratveit dived full stretch to tip around the post.

The pressure from the Republic continued straight after the break.

From Alan Browne’s inviting cross, Wilkinson rose highest six yards out to connect with a header that goalkeeper Bratveit turned over.

Rosenborg attacker Alexander Sorloth remained Norway’s primary attacking outlet, nodding a yard wide on 55 minutes as the visitors took a foothold without really upping the tempo in the final third.

Ireland are next in action on March 24th when they resume their qualification campaign by hosting group leaders Italy in Waterford.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Grimes (Leeds Utd); Hoare (St Patrick’s Ath), Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Desmond (St Patrick’s Ath), Griffin (Reading); Browne (Preston NE), O’Connor (Cork City); Connolly (Ipswich Town), Charsley (Everton), Kavanagh (Fulham); Wilkinson (Barnsley). Subs: Lawlor (Manchester City) for Grimes (46 mins), Baba (Birmingham City) for O’Connor, Miele (Shamrock Rovers) for Connolly (83 mins), Maguire (Dundalk) for Browne (87 mins). Referee: B Markham-Jones (Wales).

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