THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND finished their Uefa Under-17 Championships Qualifying Round group in pole position after a 1-1 draw with Sweden in Lohja, Finland, this afternoon.
Manager by former Finn Harps midfielder Tom Mohan (pictured above), Ireland ensured top spot and the opportunity for a better seeding in the Elite Phase draw after an impressive three games in Finland this week.
Ireland beat hosts Finland 1-0 on Thursday and then hammered Malta 6-0 on Saturday.
Glen McAuley scored Ireland’s goal just before half-time and the Irish looked set to record a clean sweep of victories before conceding a late equaliser from Chelsea’s Joseph Colley with three minutes left.
“It’s great to top the group – it was a tough battle as the Swedes needed to win to top the group,” said Mohan. “We got a good goal and had our chances. Unfortunately they got a gift equaliser which was a pity as overall we’d defended really well.
“This result gives us a better opportunity to have a better draw for the Elite Phase. Overall this week has been a great effort frim players, staff, everybody really. There was massive work put in. The players were brilliant – they prepared well, showed real professionalism on and off pitch and they played some very good football.
“They worked very hard and we were disappointed not to get the three clean sheets for them but to concede just goal one in three goals and scoring eight ourselves is very good.
“Now we’ll turn our heads to the Elite Phase. We’ll look to get some friendlies in and nail down dates and get around to games to prepare for the next challenge. We had four or five players out through injuries so it showed that there is strength in depth at this age group.”