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Ireland U19s beat Sweden to progress to UEFA U19 Championships qualifying elite round

Updated: Sunday, 13 Oct 2013 15:38 | Comments

Paul Doolin: 'We rode our luck a little bit but if you're under the cosh and defend well and your goalkeeper does well, you can't ask for more from them.'
Paul Doolin: 'We rode our luck a little bit but if you're under the cosh and defend well and your goalkeeper does well, you can't ask for more from them.'

The Republic of Ireland Under-19 team recorded a memorable victory over Sweden in the UEFA U19 Championships qualifying round in Angelholms.

Paul Doolin's side secured the three points and their second victory in the group thanks to an 83rd-minute winner from Reading's Liam Kelly, which Doolin likened to David Beckham's famous strike from the half-way line against Wimbledon in 1996.

After beating Azerbaijan in their opening game, Doolin's side now top the group and are guaranteed a place in the elite round as the top two progress.

Ireland stopper Eric Grimes was the busier of the two keepers in the first half and kept out an effort by Pontus Nordenberg from a fifth-minute Jesper Karlström corner.

Fulham's Muamer Tankovic had scored a hat-trick for his side on Thursday in their 4-1 win over the Bosnians and he was denied an opener in the eighth minute by another Grimes save.

Sweden came close once more in the 24th minute when Kyle McFadden was in the right place to clear an attempt by Joakim Olausson.

Tankovic had further efforts off target in the 29th and 51st minutes as the Swedes found the Irish rearguard extremely hard to break down.

Arber Zeneli and Tankovic had shots blocked within 60 seconds of each other as they maintained their pressure on the Irish goal.

Grimes showed his quality once more in the 80th minute when he made a stop from Simon Gustafson and the same player turned the loose ball wide when the ball came back to him.

Three minutes later Kelly stunned the home fans when he found the net with a goal that had Doolin purring as he chipped Swedish keeper Edvard Setterberg from the half-way line.

"The goal was absolutely unbelievable and I instantly thought of David Beckham. Liam picked it up on the half-way line looked up and let fly. For a guy of his size he has great technique," said Doolin.

"It's unbelievable to win this group. It's an outstanding achievement from the group of players. They were brilliant. We rode our luck a little bit but if you're under the cosh and defend well and your goalkeeper does well, you can't ask for more from them.

"Sweden are an excellent team and had a strong wind behind them in the first half but we weathered the storm. We had the breeze in the second half and we finished really strongly.

"The back four and two central midfielders Thomas Mulroney and Alan Browne were fantastic. I'm delighted for everybody and the staff.

"We've two days now until the last game. The rest period between the games is very tight but we'll go into the Bosnia game and try to keep another clean sheet and hopefully get another victory."

Doolin considers the achievement of topping the group a remarkable outcome after a series of frustrating performances at this level earlier in the season.

"We hadn't won any friendlies before our last one against Slovenia so to come over here and win the group should really be recognised," said Doolin.

"When you look at our record we've had 24 qualifying game at this age-group and every one of them was outside Ireland. Our record now is won eleven, drawn seven and lost six. It's an incredible record."

The tournament finals are in Hungary next summer with the European qualification for the World U20 Cup Finals in New Zealand in 2015 taken from that tournament.

Ireland meet Bosnia & Herzegovina in their final group game on Tuesday afternoon.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Eric Grimes, Sean Long (C), Noe Baba, Bobby Moseley, Kyle McFadden, Alan Browne, Thomas Mulroney, Alan O'Sullivan (Sam O'Connor 92), Alex O'Hanlon, Adam Wixted (Liam Kelly 62), Steven McCarthy (Dean O'Halloran 51).

SWEDEN: Edvard Setterberg, Jesper Manns, Johan Andersson, Sebastian Starke Hedlund, Simon Gustafson, Jesper Karlström, Kristoffer Olsson (Henrik Carlsson 76), Muamer Tankovic, Joakim Olausson (Niclas Eliasson 83), Arber Zeneli, Pontus Nordenberg.

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