Irish youths soccer

England U21s face Republic test

England and the Republic of Ireland have been drawn together in the qualifying groups for the 2009 European Under-21 Championship in Sweden.
Portugal, Bulgaria and Montenegro make up the rest of Group Three in the 10-group qualifying stage.

Northern Ireland play Germany, Israel, Moldova and Luxembourg in Group Nine, while Wales take on France, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Malta.

In Group Six, Scotland play Finland, Lithuania, Denmark and Slovenia.

Qualifying for the tournament will begin next season.

The winners of the 10 qualifying groups and the four best-performing runners-up, will contest seven two-legged knock-out matches to decide who joins hosts Sweden in the tournament.

The dates and locations of the qualifying matches have yet to be announced.

Ireland U21 squad. Darren O’Dea gets a call-up after excelling against Milan in the Champions League over 2 legs. Meanwhile the first team have slipped below the occupied six in the FIFA rankings but we obviously don’t need guys like O’Dea for the senior team.

Republic of Ireland Under-21 Squad to play the Netherlands, at Stadium De Koel, Venlo on Tuesday, 27 March (8.00pm KO):
Darren Quigley (UCD); Darren Randolph (Charlton Athletic); Tony Kane (Cercle Brugge KSV); Joseph O’Cearuill (Arsenal); Richard Keogh (Bristol City); Darren O’Dea (Celtic); Stephen O’Halloran (Aston Villa); Conor Powell (Bohemians); John-Paul Kelly (Bohemians); Darron Gibson (Royal Antwerp); Paul Keegan (Drogheda United); Stephen Quinn (Sheffield United); Michael Collins (Huddersfield Town); Ian Morris (Scunthorpe United); Adam Rooney (Stoke City); Billy Clarke (Ipswich Town); James O’Brien (Dunfermline Athletic)

is james O’Brien a Celtic player?

He is yeah - just at loan at Dunfermline.

Yeah, O’Brien’s on loan at Hunfermline til the end of the season. Not sure he has what it takes to make it at Celtic though.

I’m not sure O’Dea was even in the U-21 squads earlier on in the season. Can’t be bothered checking though.

O’Dea and Gibson are back into the U-21 squad for the game against the Netherlands tomorrow. I’ll see if I can get it on the site.

Also noticed last week that Jamie McCarthy scored for our Under 17s again.

U17s lost 3-0 to Germany tonight. Jamie McCarthy was out due to a thigh strain and a big loss according to Sean McCaffrey.

I see Stephen Ward has been called into that Under 21 squad as well. He grew up only a stone’s throw from Gannon Park.

Under 21s lost 1-0 in the Netherlands last night. Not a bad result considering they played their older team - i.e. the guys who will be playing in the U21 Championships for them, guys that were Under 21 at some stage in the tournament.

Ward missed a penalty first half but he played well apparently as did Jim O’Brien.

Evadner Sno played for the Dutch but went off injured after 4 minutes.

Good 3-2 friendly win over Sweden for the Under 21s last night. Never been much of a fan of Givens but they’ve had some decent results lately.

Huge boost for Givens

Stephen Finn in Uppsala

Sweden 2 Rep of Ireland 3: The Republic of Ireland under-21 side produced a thrilling attacking display to record a memorable friendly win over Sweden in Uppsala last night.

It was a performance to boost the confidence of Don Givens’s young side ahead of their Uefa Championship qualifier against England at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday (kick-off 8pm).

Givens handed debuts to Michael Spillane and Aidan Downes but the young Irish side needed little time to get into their stride.

Stephen Quinn gave them the lead in the 19th minute when he nipped in to slot the ball under goalkeeper Per Hansson after a brilliant foray from the right back Eddie Nolan.

Sweden reacted quickly and the Ireland captain, Darren O’Dea, had to clear off the line to deny Johan Oremo on 21 minutes.

Just 60 seconds later a right-wing free-kick by Rasmus Elm found the head of Mattias Bjarsmyr but the Ireland goalkeeper, Darren Randolph, was well placed to save.

Less than a minute later Randolph made a point-blank stop to deny Oremo after the striker broke through following a slip by Spillane.

Oremo then passed up a golden chance for the home side when he screwed wide horribly from close range after connecting with a low, left-wing cross by Marcus Berg on the half-hour.

The charmed life of the Irish goal continued in the 39th minute as they survived a remarkable goalmouth scramble.

Randolph pushed a Berg effort on to a post and then Spillane knocked Christer Youssef’s follow-up strike on to the crossbar before Stephen O’Halloran cleared to safety.

A minute later Randolph again made an excellent stop to push a Berg effort around his left upright.

Oremo’s nightmare in front of goal ended in the 54th minute when he tapped home to level after Ireland’s substitute goalkeeper, Stephen Henderson, had parried a Berg effort.

Ireland regained the lead in the 62nd minute when Alan Sheehan headed home after a Jim O’Brien strike was deflected into his path.

The Irish extended their lead nine minutes later when Downes shot home brilliantly on the turn from the edge of the box.

Sweden grabbed their second goal in the 81st minute when sub Pontus Wernbloom headed to the net from a right-wing delivery by Mikael Lustig.

SWEDEN: Hansson; Siwe, Bjarsmyr, Svensson, Wihlborg, Castro-Tello, Ahman-Persson, Youssef, Elm, Berg, Oremo. Subs: Lustig for Siwe, Bajrami for Youssef (both 63 mins), Toivonen for Berg, Wernbloom for Oremo (both 75 mins).

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: D Randolph (Charlton); E Nolan (Blackburn Rovers), S O’Halloran (Aston Villa), M Spillane (Norwich City), D O’Dea (Celtic), P Cregg (Falkirk), O Garvan (Ipswich Town), S Quinn (Sheffield Utd), A Stokes (Sunderland), J O’Brien (Celtic), A Downes (Everton). Subs: Henderson (Bristol City) for Randolph, Power (Nottm Forest) for Garvan, Sheehan (Leicester City for Quinn (all 46 mins); Coleman (Sligo Rovers) for Nolan (58 mins); Judge (Blackburn Rovers) for O’Brien (68 mins).

The qualification game on Tuesday night down in Cork against England is live on Sky Sports so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on.

Reminder that the Ireland-England U-21 game is on Sky Sports tonight. I’m interested to see how our lads shape as many of them aren’t near their club first teams whereas England have the likes of Taylor and Milner at Newcastle, Agbonlahor, the much-hyped Theo Walcott etc.

Ray Houghton has appeared on Sky Sports. Fooking legend. Talking about our great record against England since ‘my winning goal’ in the 1988 European Championships. He’s hoping the young lads ‘get stuck right into the enemy - because that’s what they are, the enemy’.

Unsavoury booing of the English national anthem down in Turner’s Cross. You wouldn’t see a rugby crowd do that do. Come on the Ireland

3-0 down at half time. Playing some decent stuff and Stokes is having a smashing game but the goals we’ve given away have been criminal:

  1. The 'keeper dropped a cross under little if any pressure and some English lad knocked it in.

  2. Ball played down the line and the right sided centre back, Keogh, completely fresh airs his clearance. Some English lad cut in, drew O’Dea across to cover and he played it across to some other lad to tap in.

  3. They had a throw on the left hand side. The Keogh lad was screaming at the right back, Nolan, to pick up some other random English lad. The right back completely ignored him and the English lad received the throw under no pressure, went to the byline and crossed it to some other lad, who was totally unmarked. His shot cannoned off O’Dea and went past the 'keeper.

The right back and the right sided centre half have been completely out of their depth. Passing it around nicely though and have had more efforts on target than them.

Didn’t see the first half but saw most of the second half. Game was fairly even with cracking chances missed by both teams. Garvan was decent in the middle though he let them get on top at stages. Other than that the game had really fizzled out at 0-3. Brian Marwood was one annoying bastard on commentary though.

Ireland have a decent U21 side out tonight against England:





Game on Sky Sports 1 or online via the Live Sport link at the top of the page.

Ireland are playing some lovely stuff here.

Randolph looks competent. Bit ropey on one shot but he’s looked composed and authoritative.

Back 4 have played well. Full backs are doing well against Lennon and Milner and O’Dea and O’Cearruil look comfortable in general. We’re passing it out of defence as well which is encouraging.

We’re more of a 5 in midfield than anything. Garvan and O’Toole anchoring and both very tidy on the ball. Garvan had a lovely piece of skill to create a chance for himself but Taylor blocked it. Stephen Quinn has given it away a few times but he’s put in loads and loads of work and he’s looked dangerous.

Billy Clarke and Stokes are on the wings. Both of them have had more to do defensively really but they’ve done alright at that and Stokes has done well with the ball a few times. Clarke has been far quieter (at Falkirk now on loan apparently).

Keogh is up top on his own. Not much to do but he’s held it up when he’s had the chance and he’s chasing everything down.

Good performance overall. They’ve far more experience but we’ve kept the ball well and played the right stuff.

Ireland 2-0 down now with Milner getting both.

Keogh had a cracking chance on 50 minutes when played clean through with loads of time but he really fluffed it and passed it straight to the keeper having telegraphed what he’d do.

THey got a goal just around the hour mark. O’Dea held up Walcott who laid it back to Milner at the edge of the box. Nobody went to close him down. eventually O’Dea went himself but Milner just knocked in a shot that took a small deflection home. O’Dea should have closed him down quicker possibly but there were two others in better positions who didn’t bother. Disappointing given the effort put in until then.

Milner got another from the edge of the box 10 minutes later and Walcott has just put them 3-0 up but that’s harsh on Ireland who have played well in general.

Christ, what a harsh scoreline considering we were far better than them for the first hour. Owen Garvan gave a masterclass of one touch passing in midfield and some of his play was sensational from crisp short/mid range passes to keep things ticking over through to more ambitious slide rule balls and generally carrying the fight to them. I really enjoyed watching him play and he was very good in the initial game in Cork against them last year too. I’d like to see him play a few more times but he was really excellent tonight. I thought Darren O’Dea looked quite rusty at times but overall the back four were good. Stephen Quinn also played very well in midfield too I thought.

Sky were going on about class eventually shining through but I thought we were still the ones knocking the ball around right to the end rather than them. Their experience probably told as collectively they’ve played a good bit more EPL football than us with Stokes being our only EPL player and we got caught chasing the game near the end. They also had a few slices of luck with the deflection for the first goal and us having a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside when we were 2-0 down.

Overall, I was encouraged by the style and manner of our play and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Garvan. I remember reading a while back that he suffers from terrible homesickness and didn’t want to go back to Ipswich after his summer break and seriously considered settling for the quiet life back here. On tonight’s evidence there’ll be plenty of big clubs scouting him over the rest of the season.

Agreed with most of that Bandage. Back 4 were very solid. O’Dea wasn’t brilliant, not bad but I’d expect him to be a bit more dominant. I think he was very wary of the pace of Walcott so he played a bit deeper than normal. Fine to prevent yourself getting skinned but that’s what created the space for England. Full backs did well, though O’Halloran should have been much better for the first goal.

In midfield Garvan was excellent as you say. The three lads: Quinn, Garvan and O’Toole all tried to play passing football all night with different levels of success. I like what I’ve seen of O’Toole for the Under 21’s and he’s doing well with Watford. His passing wasn’t always top notch but he put in a good shift overall. Stephen Quinn was probably the worst at ball retention but he had a slightly different role and he was superb at breaking forward and at harrying them in possession. Garvan was definitely the pick of the bunch - not sure he gave it away all night and he played some lovely stuff. Nearly created a cracking goal for himself in the first half.

Wasn’t overly impressed with the other three starters. Keogh had a decent game but had a super chance at 0-0 and finished really tamely. You have to do better in those circumstances as a striker. Clarke wasn’t in it much at all, O’Brien would probably have contributed more on the flank. Stokes had some good touches but he’s not a winger by any means because it’s just cut inside and shoot every time. He reminds me a bit of Derek Riordan - gets the ball and if he can’t score then he doesn’t really know what to do with it.

Overall 3-0 was very harsh. As you say it should have been 2-1 but for an incorrect offside decision and the third goal only came because we had pressed on. Encouraging style of football and good to see the confidence on the ball.