International success for Irish U19 trio

By SFC Media Fri 29 Mar International
Photo by FAI | Will Smallbone

Ireland Under-19s finished their European Elite Round Qualifying campaign as group winners in Russia, having seen off Romania, Azerbaijan and the hosts themselves to book a place at the competition finals in Armenia in July.

Southampton trio Will Smallbone, Jonathan Afolabi and Will Ferry played their part in all three victories, with Ireland the first and only U19s team to qualify with a 100% record.

A five-star showing against Romania set the youngsters on their way, with two goals each from captain Afolabi and midfielder Smallbone in a 5-1 win.

A 3-1 victory over Azerbaijan followed, where Afolabi took his personal tally to three, before signing off with a 2-0 triumph over Russia.

Ireland's younger age groups fared a little differently; Sean Brennan was involved in an Under-18s friendly double header against Turkey, losing the first tie and drawing the second, while Seamas Keogh captained the Under-17s contingent out in Finland, as they concluded their preparations for May’s UEFA European U17 Championships with a narrow 2-1 friendly defeat to their hosts.

Elsewhere, Wales’ hopes of reaching the 2019 U19 European Championships came to an end after three group stage defeats in Hardenberg, Netherlands. 

Southampton duo Christian Norton and Callum Watts were involved, in some capacity, in all three Welsh line-ups, but weren't able to pick up any points from a particularly hard group, which included Spain, Netherlands and Slovenia.

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