THE Republic of Ireland U19 side finished a useful week’s preparations for the UEFA Championships qualifiers next month with a 2-2 draw with Sweden in Strangna today.
Moville goalkeeper Peter Burke and Letterkenny’s Chris Flanagan both played the 90 minutes for Paul Doolin’ side.
First half goals from Eoghan Stokes and Ryan Manning gave Ireland a 2-0 lead at the break before Sweden got back into with a 65th minute goal from Shkelqim Krasniqi and then equalised in the 75th minute through Valmir Berisha.
Leeds United attacker Stokes found the net in the eighth minute when he intercepted a poor pass and chipped the exposed Swedish keeper.
Ryan Manning then extended that lead in the 26th minute when he finished well after more good work from the Irish side.
After the break Doolin – who had to operate without the injured Shaun Donnellan and Regan Donelan, who was unwell, although they were named on the bench – saw his side face an onslaught from the home side and Doolin was pleased with the final score.
“In the first half we could have been four up. Unfortunately we made a mess of a couple of chances and had some other missed opportunities too so we could have been out of sight,” he said.
“Sweden came at us quickly but once we settled we were very good. Eoghan Stokes scored the first goal with a great finish then Ryan Manning scored with an excellent counter attack.
“In the second half they really came at us and they were very strong so the draw was something we were happy with it. The Swedes have a lot of players playing in the Swedish top division. We had a lot of tired legs.”
Doolin’s options had been impacted this week by the loss of a few of his original selections through injuries.
“We managed to get away with it – losing Liam Bossin, Cieron Keane and Kevin Toner – so I was delighted with the week overall,” he added.
“The fitness issue at this level really does stand out. Overall we’re delighted with it but we’ll have to do better than we did in the second half today. I’m delighted with the week and it’s another bit towards being ready for the qualifiers next month.”
Ireland host their UEFA U19 Championships qualifying round group next month start with Malta on November 13, then meet Gibraltar two days later before their final game against Switzerland on November 18.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Peter Burke, Noe Baba, Jamie Mulhall (Dessie Hutchinson 71), Fiacre Kelleher, Sean Heaney, Harry Charsley (Connor Dimaio 56), Ryan Manning, Eoghan Stokes, Joel Coustrain (Reece Grego-Cox 46), Chris Flanagan, Jack Hallahan (Frankie Mulhern 71).
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