Republic of Ireland U19s unlucky to miss out after Belgium win

Sweden’s win over Italy means Tom Mohan’s side miss out on finals

Republic of Ireland U19 player Zachary Elbouzedi went close to scoring in the win over Belgium. Photograph:  Kostadin Andonov/Inpho

Republic of Ireland U19 player Zachary Elbouzedi went close to scoring in the win over Belgium. Photograph: Kostadin Andonov/Inpho

 

Belgium 0 Republic of Ireland 1

The Republic of Ireland were denied a place in the Uefa Under-19 Championships finals on goal difference despite beating mini-tournament hosts Belgium 1-0 in their final group game on Tuesday.

Tom Mohan’s side needed to beat the Belgians and hope that rivals Sweden would be held by Italy in the other game in the group.

A 21st-minute own goal by Belgium skipper Wout Faes gave Ireland the three points in Beveren but substitute Viktor Gyökeres grabbed the only goal of the game in Hamme to seal top spot for the Swedes.

The Irish goal was the main talking point of the first half. Trevor Clarke got to the endline and whipped in a cross that the defender turned into his own net.

Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher made a save to deny Jorn Vancamp in the dying moments of the first half.

Zachary Elbouzedi had a shot blocked in the 59th minute after the Belgians failed to clear a Corey O’Keeffe corner and less than a minute later Ronan Hale fired off target as Ireland pressed for a second goal.

Kelleher made another save to keep out an Orel Mangala effort in the 61st minute and five minutes later he kept out an attempt by Vancamp.

Vancamp was denied again by Kelleher in the 84th minute and Jayson Molumby brought out a save from home goalkeeper Jens Teunckens 60 seconds later.

Elbouzedi also had an effort off target in injury time but the bigger disappointment for Ireland was the result from the other game in the group which saw the Swedes reach the finals at Ireland’s expense.

“We were outstanding to a man. The lads did Irish football proud tonight. To perform so well against a top nation like Belgium, who were very good, says everything about them,” said Mohan.

“It’s very disappointing but we have to live with it and move on. These boys are ambitious and know they did enough to reach the finals. To beat Italy and Belgium was so good but maybe we were a bit tired in the second game and paid the price.

“I couldn’t have asked more of the players and the staff. The lads showed character and hard work.

“We had to defend so well after going ahead. Our back four with Conor Masterson and Declan Rice excelling and Caoimhin Kelleher making impressive saves were very good. Ronan Hale put in a great shift. Trevor Clarke was outstanding.

“We could only carry out our side of the bargain and hope that Italy did us a favour against Sweden. If you look at Connor Ronan, Steven Kinsella and Jake Doyle-Hayes also missing it’s been an incredible effort from our lads.

“A lot of these players have big futures in the game. Three of our back four plus Jayson Molumby in midfield are eligible again next season. I don’t think anybody could argue but that the future is bright.”

BELGIUM: Teunckens, Lemoine (Janssens, 46 mins), Faes, Verstraete (Van Vaerenbergh, 46 mins), Vancamp, Rigo, Verreth, De Smet, Mangala (Seigers, 75 mins), Daneels, Vanheusden.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Kelleher, Carroll, Masterson, Rice, Wilson., O’Keeffe, Levingston (McKenna, 51 mins), Elbouzedi, Molumby, Hale, Clarke.

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