Ross Tierney the hero as Ireland Under-21s down Australia

Bohemians midfielder scores late winner on debut for Jim Crawford’s side in Marbella

Bohemians midfielder Ross Tierney scored the winner for Ireland Under-21s in Marbella. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Bohemians midfielder Ross Tierney scored the winner for Ireland Under-21s in Marbella. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Republic of Ireland 2 Australia 1

Ross Tierney enjoyed a dream debut for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s this afternoon, coming off the bench to score the winner against Australia’s Under-23s in Marbella.

The Bohemians midfielder - a late call-up to the camp in Spain for injured clubmate Dawson Devoy - headed home from fellow substitute Tyriek Wright’s cross less than two minutes after being introduced by Jim Crawford.

Australia are preparing to compete at the Olympic Games next month and, although Ramy Najjarine cancelled out Jay Rich-Baghuelou’s 57th minute own goal with 16 minutes left, Ireland responded gamely to eke out victory.

Crawford made six changes from the starting side beaten 2-0 by Switzerland in Sunday’s opener, handing Andy Lyons his Under-21 debut.

The Bohemians rightback and the rest of his defenders were under pressure from the outset, especially threatened by winger Panos Armenakas.

Mark McGuinness was required to produce a last-gasp block to deny the playmaker before he clipped the far post on 13 minutes with a curler after cutting in from the right.

Ireland found it difficult in the midway heat against a bigger and older side to develop cohesion to their play.

Jonathan Afolabi was adjudged to have been offside when he fired over, Luca Connell was off-target with a 20-yard shot while Louie Watson blazed over.

Those were rare glimpses of respite for the Irish in the first half, as the Socceroos wasted the clearest opening four minutes before the break.

When Oisin McEntee was dispossessed by John Iredale on the halfway line, the striker threaded a ball for Anthony Kalik whose rising shot was well gathered by Brian Maher.

Afolabi made way for Kayode at half-time and Ireland’s lone forward swiftly made his presence felt by winning the first corner of the game on 52 minutes.

It wasn’t going Australia’s way and, while they tried to inject some vibrancy by introducing senior international Daniel Arzani, it was Ireland who struck first.

Neat play from Lyons released Conor Noss into the right side of the box and his low cross was turned into his net by Rich-Baghuelou just as Kayode was poised to tap in.

Ryan Johnansson, on as a sub, almost embarrassed goalkeeper Jordan Holmes on 65 minutes by robbing him of possession inside the six-yard box but Australia levelled from the next attack nine minutes later.

Substitute Najjarine was given far too much time and space to drift in from the right and beat Maher with a rising shot into the opposite corner.

Back came Ireland and after Kayode had a penalty claim rejected with two minutes left, they bagged the second following a flowing move down the left.

Ireland complete their camp by facing Denmark on Saturday at 5pm, the final game before the 2023 European Championship qualifiers kick off in September.

Republic of Ireland: B Maher; A Lyons, M McGuinness, O McEntee, W Ferry; C Coventry, L Connell (R Tierney 88); G Kilkenny (T Wright 61), L Watson (R Johansson 62), C Noss (A Gilbert 75); J Afolabi (JJ Kayode 46).

Australia: J Holmes; G Cleur, J Rich-Baghuelou, M Tokich; C Watts (N Pennington 87), R Teague, C O’Toole, K Popovic; P Armenakas (R Najjarine 54), J Iredale (MJ Francois 80), A Kalik (D Arzani 54).

Referee: Pareja Nieto (Spain).

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