MARC WALSH PLAYED as the Republic of Ireland U17s continued their preparations for the Uefa U17 Championships Qualifying Round with a 3-2 victory over Turkey this afternoon.
The Loughanure native is a product of the Gweedore Celtic academy and is on the books of Finn Harps.
Colin O’Brien’s side had beaten the Turks 2-0 at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday and followed that performance up with another impressive display today at Midleton FC.
This crop of Turkish players had never lost at international level before this week and are rated amongst the best young sides in Europe.
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Ireland took a fortunate lead in the 14th minute when the visitors scored an own goal after defender Okan Turp’s back-pass ended up in his own net.
The impressive Aaron Connolly was unlucky not to extend that lead in the 28th minute when he went on a driving run through the centre then burst left and curled his shot narrowly over the Turkish goal.
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Turkey levelled in the 32nd minute when Kerem Atakan Kesgin found the net with a powerful low strike from the edge of the Irish penalty area that squeezed under keeper Tom Murphy’s body.
Murphy made a solid stop to keep out a low strike by Enes İslam İlkin in the 37th minute and 60 seconds later he was called into action again to parry a shot from Sefa Akgün.
Three minutes into the second half a delivery from the right by Gavin Kilkenny found Connolly but he could only flick forward and didn’t get enough power on the effort to beat the keeper.
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Seven minutes into the second half Ireland regained the lead when Connolly produced a brilliant individual goal. The striker drove down the right wing, cut inside a defender and fired home with his left foot.
The Irish did not get much chance to build on the lead as the Turks won a penalty in the 54th minute when Kesgin went down under a challenge from Dominic Peppard and the referee awarded a spot-kick which Atalay Babacan converted.
Ireland did take the lead once more in the 66th minute and once again it was a fantastic individual effort. Defender Lee O’Connor took possession in his own half then burst forward to outstrip the Turkish midfield and he slotted the ball into the bottom corner as the keeper advanced.
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Glen McAuley was unlucky not to make it 4-2 in the 71st minute when he ran onto a ball over the top by Aaron Bolger and the striker’s clever lift over advancing keeper Ozan Can Oruç was narrowly over the crossbar.
The UEFA U17 Championships Qualifying Round takes place in October with Ireland travelling to Andorra to take on the mini-tournament hosts, Kazhakstan and Greece with the top two progressing to the Elite Phase.
Republic of Ireland: Tom Murphy, Luke Nolan, Lee O’Connor, Kameron Ledwidge , Dominic Peppard , Aaron Bolger, Sean Brennan, Brandon Kavanagh, Gavin Kilkenny, Aaron Connolly Marc Walsh. Subs: Glen McAuley for Connolly 52 mins, Conor Coventry for Kavanagh 52, Adam Idah for Walsh 52, Cian Lee for Peppard 58, Rowan Roache for Kilkenny 73.
Turkey: Türkiye: Ozan Can Oruç, Ozan Muhammed Kabak, Okan Turp, Berk Çetin, Batuhan Arda Özdemir, Kerem Atakan Kesgin, Atalay Babacan, Umut Güneş, Enes İslam İlkin, Sefa Akgün, Malik Karaahmet. Subs: Bekir Melih Gökçimen for Çetin 50, Abdussamed Karnuçu for Sefa Akgün 50, Recep Gül for Babacan 73, Yunus Akgün for İlkin 73, Malik Batmaz for Karaahmet 73.Tags: