Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Stephen Kenny described his side's second half performance as "nothing short of brilliant" as they brushed aside Sweden 4-1 at Tallaght Stadium

The home side were somewhat under the weather in the first half and trailed through a Viktor Gyokeres goal at the midway point. 

But they emerged a different team in the second half, bolstered greatly by the introduction of Connor Ronan at midfield. 

Lee O'Connor, Adam Idah, Troy Parrott and Zach Elbouzedi all scored as Ireland tore the Swedes to ribbons to remain top of Group I.

The second half was just a transformation

"I'm absolutely thrilled with the level of performance in the second half," Kenny told RTÉ Sport afterwards.

"We didn't play our normal game at all in the first half. We still created a couple of chances but we were deservedly losing at half-time it's fair to say. But the second half was just a transformation.  

"We scored four in that second half, we could have scored eight! Some of the play was just brilliant. It was nothing short of brilliant in the second half. 

"That's a credit to the players for showing their individual talent. And it's such a young team. Gavin Bazunu and Troy Parrott are 17, and Jason Knight and Nathan Collins are 18."

In extolling the performance of Ireland's current underage crop, Kenny is quick to praise the work of coaches around the country and highlighted the FAI for putting the present systems in place. 

Parrott and Lee O'Connor returned to the U21 fold tonight having been enlisted by the seniors last week, duly missing out on the trip to Armenia. 

Aaron Connolly meanwhile - man of the match against Armenia in the second game of the campaign - is now essentially a full member of the senior set-up.

Kenny is entirely sanguine about the loss of players to the senior ranks, stressing that the senior international squad is the priority and noting that the underage side have a reasonable amount of depth.

This, he says, is a consequence of the emerging talent programmes. 

"Aaron Connolly, Lee O'Connor (above) and Troy Parrott have all been capped at senior international level. That's good progression. The problem is we're losing our best players (laughs), but that's the nature of it. That's what you want.  

"The senior international team is the absolute priority. There's no doubt about that. And we've got a bit of depth to our talent. 

"That's a credit to all of the coaches around Ireland. Because ten or eleven of our starting XI are from emerging talent programmes throughout the country. People don't realise that the FAI does amazing work right throughout the country.

"Coaches at grassroots level are bringing through players. Aaron Connolly from Galway, Adam Idah from Cork, Lee O'Connor and Zach Elbouzedi from Waterford. Aidan Keena that came on is from Mullingar. Ten of them have come through our systems. We're represented all over the country."

The Ireland players celebrate Adam Idah scoring the lead goal

By the time Ireland wind up their qualification campaign in October 2020, Kenny will no longer be the Under-21 manager but said that reaching the U-21 European Championship finals for the first time would be a major fillip to the careers of the group. 

"Italy are an outstanding team and we'd a brilliant game with them here. I felt we should have won really but it was evenly balanced. There's two games in March, we've got to go to Luxembourg and we've Iceland here.

If those players could go onto the Euros, it'd really enhance their careers

"It's hard to believe we're 10 points ahead of Sweden because they hammered Iceland 5-0. They've obviously got three matches in hand but you'd rather have ten points in the hand. It puts us in a really strong position. 

"It'd be great to see them go to the U21 Euros because we've never qualified. We were in Toulon this year and I think that's really benefitted this group in the campaign. If those players could go onto the Euros, it'd really enhance their careers. 

"We'd a full house here for Italy game. Obviously all the focus was on last night which is right so not so tonight but we still had a passionate crowd.

Kenny congratules Zack Elbouzedi after the full-time whistle

"There's huge interest in all the young players. All the young players are becoming well known names, we won't call them household names but well known names. They've some way to go to be household. 

"People are becoming familiar with them, identifying with them, connecting with them, which wasn't always the case. And that's great progress.  

"They're loving playing for Ireland. They've great pride playing for Ireland and that's great to see."