A 3-1 defeat on a disappointing evening in Belfast put paid to the Republic of Ireland Schools’ chances of retaining the SAFIB Centenary Shield and saw Northern Ireland claim outright victory in the five nation competition for the first time since 2013 last night.
The home side’s win clinched the top spot three points ahead of England and left the Republic still awaiting their first victory in the Shield after a draw in Scotland followed by a defeat to England at Dalymount Park last Friday night.
Their final game against Wales in Home Farm FC next Thursday will give William O’Connor’s squad the opportunity to claim a first win and take the third position.
The Republic had the better of the first half up until the final ten minutes when they managed to concede two goals in the space of a couple of minutes.
Earlier Colin Kelly (St. Joseph’s College) might have opened the scoring with a dangerous cross ball effort that forced full back Malachy Smith to head over his own crossbar with goalkeeper Ruadhan McKenna well beaten.
Then Yeats College star Dónal Higgins burst through from midfield and tested McKenna with a smart volley.
Carndonagh CS pupil Jack Doherty popped up moments later but his effort sailed over the upright following good work from Kelly and Bermingham.
The best chance came on the half hour mark with Trim youngster James Clarke delivering a high ball in front the left that left McKenna scrambling to push over the crossbar and from the resulting short corner Kelly’s thunderous drive struck the underside of the bar and rebound to safety.
Northern Ireland went ahead when McKenna’s long clearance wasn’t dealt with by the Republic defenders and Andrew Whiteside was allowed to run on and beat a helpless David Odumosu.
Minutes later things got worse as Callum Ferris doubled the lead when he followed up to beat Odumosu from close in after his initial headed had been parred by the Republic ‘keeper.
The introduction of Ross Tierney for Clarke at half time sparked the prospect of a come-back for O’Connor’s side and the lively Tierney of St. Aidan’s CBS, Whitehall did manage to pull a goal back on 58 minutes.
Callum Ferris sealed the win for Northern Ireland with 20 minutes remaining when he cleverly turned the ball past Odumosu after connecting with a well delivered Smith free kick.
Carndonagh CS’s Jack Doherty started, while Carn Cs man Corey McBride was taken on as a substitute. Carndonagh pupil Lee McLaughlin and St Eunan’s College’s Daragh Ellison were unused subs.Tags: