Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and Under-21s manager Stephen Kenny praised ‘a brilliant exercise’ as the U-21s secured a 2-1 victory in a training match.
Played at the FAI National Training Centre, the behind-closed-doors fixture was a full 90-minute match as Ireland continue their preparations for the UEFA European Championships qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar, and the U-21s prepare for the Toulon Tournament.
After a goalless first-half, Scott Hogan opened the scoring for the senior team before Barnet midfielder Jack Taylor equalised from close range for the U-21s just a minute later. With the match heading for a draw, Taylor scored his second goal of the game as his 25-yard deflected effort found its way past goalkeeper Sean McDermott in the final minute of the game.
Speaking after the match, Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was quick to praise the performance of the U-21s and believes it was a worthwhile exercise.
“They played well, we had plenty of chances to score but then they won it with a deflected goal. I thought Conor Kearns was excellent, he made four or five really good saves, maybe we should have put them away but they were excellent saves,” said McCarthy.
“We made changes at half-time and it was about getting minutes into the legs for the players, even if it meant playing a few of them out of position. The real plus point is that nobody got injured, everyone got 45 minutes and were made to work hard which is great for us.
“And I hope, it makes the players realise how difficult the next two games are going to be, because the Under-21s played well and that was hard work for the team today.”
With the U-21 squad set to fly to France for the Toulon Tournament on Saturday, manager Stephen Kenny was delighted with the application of his young squad.
“We’ve had eight players come into the squad for the first time and we played two different XI’s, so it was two very good performances from both teams in each half,” said Kenny.
“We were looking for a high level of performance and to get through the game without injury, so it was a great exercise for both teams. It is up a couple of levels playing the senior team so they acquitted themselves really well.
“We’ve got tough opposition next week, China and Mexico are bringing their Olympic squads so we’ve got to get ready for that test and this was the perfect preparation for that.”