Former Belvedere man Troy Parrott scored the vital goals to reignite the Republic of Ireland Under-17s as he fired them to a 1-0 win over Denmark in their second European Championship group stage tie.
The win at St George’s Park in England saw Ireland bounce back from an opening day defeat to Belgium and means they have a chance of escaping their group if they can beat Bosnia & Herzegovina on Friday.
Ireland came flying out of the blocks and went ahead in just the fourth minute. Hartstown man Sean Brennan expertly switched the play to find Adam O’Reilly in space.
O’Reilly found Summerhill man Parrott out wide, the Tottenham Hotspur forward then cut inside and drove a right footed strike past Daniel Andersen in the Danish goal.
The second half started lively once again with two clear cut chances for Ireland. First Adam Idah and then Parrott both went close to extending the lead but both ef-forts went narrowly over the crossbar.
Ultimately it was the early goal that was decisive as Ireland head into a final group game on Friday against Bosnia with it all to play for.
“That’s what we said from day one,” manager Colin O’Brien said afterwards. “These tournaments are all about three games. It’s all about being alive in game three and that victory has ensured we got into Bosnia with a chance to get out of the group.
“I think it was just a real team performance, a really positive start and we should have had a couple more goals in the second half, something we maybe have to look at.
“At 1-0, there is always that chance from a set play or a break that they counter us. But some of our defensive structure in the second half – even though the Danes had a lot of the ball – they found it difficult to penetrate us.”
In the wake of Parrott’s goal, the players all rushed to Shamrock Rovers Kian Clarke to celebrate. The goalkeeper has seen his tournament cut short through injury and O’Brien said it was indicative of the spirit within the squad.
“Kian has been a warrior for us all season and was massive in us qualifying for the European Championships. He’s just had an unfortunate injury and won’t be fit for game three so all the boys wanted to do it for him and celebrate with him.”
Earlier this week in game one, Ireland went down 2-0 to Belgium at Loughborough University Stadium.
Goals in either half from Sekou Sidibe and Yorbe Vertessen ensured a clinical Belgian side claimed the three points.
Ireland opened the brighter but fell behind in the 34th minute when Sidibe slotted home the rebound after Nicolas Raskin’s initial effort came back off the crossbar.
Adam Idah called Nick Shinton into action in the Belgian goal on a number of occasions in the second period. The Ireland forward was denied in the 52nd minute when he got on the end of a long ball from Ballybrack man Max Murphy.
Idah was frustrated again by Shinton eight minutes later as the Belgian keeper tipped the Corkman’s effort around the post. From the resulting corner Nathan Collins headed inches wide as Ireland continued to push for an opening.
Disaster was to strike though for Colin O’Brien’s side with 12 minutes remaining when Yorbe Vertessen was quickest to a rebound to put the Belgians into a lead they would not relinquish.