Irish U19s: Kinsella Nets In Ireland’s Opener
Dundalk’s Steven Kinsella scored as the Republic of Ireland Under-19s went down 2-1 to Norway in their opening match at the 12th Under-19 National Team Tournament in La Manga on Friday afternoon.
Tom Mohan’s side got off to a slow start and were a goal down in the third minute and while the Irish had chances to level the Norwegians extended their lead in the second half with a controversial penalty kick, before Kinsella – on loan at Oriel Park from Everton – got a late consolation.
The Irish went 1-0 down in the third minute when the Norwegians burst down the left flank and Basit Agouda got into the penalty area then flicked the ball past Irish defender Darragh Leahy for Knut Ahlander to side-foot home from eight-yards out. Josh Barrett had a chance to level less than 60 seconds later but his volley at the back post was comfortably held by goalkeeper Kjetil Haug.
Ahlander had an opportunity to extend the Norwegian lead in the eighth minute when he got his head to a left-wing cross but Irish ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher did well to push his effort over the crossbar. Barrett had a chance to level in the 15th minute when he got on the end of a right-wing delivery from Canice Carroll and cut inside the defender but fired over the crossbar.
In the 16th minute the Irish had a let off when the speedy Agouda burst through but fired against Kelleher’s right post and the ball rebounded to safety. Three minutes before the break it appeared that Norwegian midfielder Jens Petter Hauge handled in his penalty area but the referee dismissed the appeals.
The Norwegians first threatened a second goal in the 59th minute when substitute Petter Mathias Olsen had a long-range shot saved by Kelleher. Norway were awarded a bizarre penalty in the 76th minute when Trevor Clarke was penalised for a challenge on Agouda which replays showed involved zero contact between the players. Agouda stepped up to slot home the spot-kick.
Kinsella pulled a goal back for Ireland in the 89th minute when he steered the ball home with an overhead kick after an Anthony Scully corner had been knocked back across the goal-face by Zachary Elbouzedi. Dan McKenna was denied an equaliser two minutes into injury-time with a strike from the edge of the box that Haug held comfortably.
“There’s a lot of positives to take from it. A lot of new faces came in and did very well. The result was disappointing but outside of a poor first 20 minutes once we coped with Norway’s direct style of play I was pleased with how we performed,” said Mohan. “The second goal was a soft penalty and probably gave a false impression of how the game was going. We deservedly got a goal back and maybe deserved a second one.”
Ireland will meet Portugal in their second game in the tournament on Sunday afternoon (12pm Irish time). Mohan added: “Portugal will be a tough game too. This week is about giving the players game-time against strong opposition and we will be making sure as many players get that opportunity as possible.”
Republic of Ireland: Caoimhin Kelleher, Canice Carroll (Shane Hanney HT), Conor Masteron (Barry Cotter HT), Darragh Leahy, Conor Kane (Trevor Clarke 65), JJ Lunney, Jayson Molumby (Dan McKenna 57), Steven Kinsella, Josh Barrett (Anthony Scully HT), Michael O’Connor (Zachary Elbouzedi 81), Dan Mandriou.
Remaining Fixtures: La Manga Invitational Tournament
Sunday 12 February: Republic of Ireland v Portugal, La Manga Club, Murcia (12pm Irish time)
Tuesday 14 February: Republic of Ireland v Slovakia, La Manga Club, Murcia (12pm Irish time)
Report from FAI.ie.