Victory over US a superb result for Irish youths
THE Republic of Ireland put themselves back into contention for a place in the second phase of the World Youth Championship finals in" Malaysia with this victory over the United States in Alor Setar yesterday.
There were some anxious moments for the Irish as they endured a second half of severe pressure as the Americans chased a victory to add to their success over China in their opening match of this group on Tuesday night.
The Irish now trail leaders Ghana by just a point and the US find themselves in third place. Ghana drew 1-1 with China last night.
The Irish take on the Chinese on Sunday and even a draw should see them through to the second phase.
Before yesterday's match a torrential downpour cooled the temperatures, which suited the Irish, who were quick off the mark. Within seven minutes Michael Cummins had them ahead when he made great ground in the penalty area to meet a corner from Alan Kirby and head to the net.
Nineteen minutes later the Irish were two up. The goal again came from a setpiece. Damien Duff jumped over the ball when Ireland were awarded a free kick. Trevor Morgan took the kick and when Michael Cummins nodded the ball on, Trevor Molloy headed it to the net for his third goal in three internationals.
The Irish lost a wonderful chance of going three ahead on the half hour when Duff failed to control a throughball from Morgan with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Rarely during the half had the Americans presented a threat other than in the opening minute when they had almost taken a sensational lead as Jorge Flores punted a long ball upfield and Josh Wolfe fired his shot just over the bar.
But in the 40th minute Flores had his moment when the Americans were awarded a dubious penalty as Wolfe was taken down by David Worrell. Flores cracked the spot kick to the net.
The Americans came out for the second half full of fight and determination. They swarmed forward in a series of attacks as the wilting Irish were put under severe pressure. But the Irish defence were magnificent throughout.
And no praise could be high enough for Cummins at right full back. He came into the side in place of David Whittle and had an outstanding game. Apart from his defensive qualities and his enormous work rate he was also in the right place for the first goal and on hand to assist for the second.
Cummins was one of three changes manager Brian Kerr made in his side after first choice goalkeeper Derek O'Connor and mid fielder Niall Inman went down with illnesses. Paul Whelan came in for O'Connor and did well in goal and Alan Kirby replaced Inman in midfield.