The Republic of Ireland Under-18s made it a winning start to Colin O'Brien’s reign with a 2-0 victory over Hungary in Budapest.
Goals from Derby County’s Cian Kelly-Caprani and Shamrock Rovers’ Dara McGuinness were enough to give the Boys in Green a win in the first of two international friendlly games this week in the Hungarian capital.
This was the first appearance for an Irish Under-18s team since September 2019 with O’Brien giving 14 players a first outing at this level.
Luton Town’s Ed McJannet captained the side and it was his first appearance for an Irish underage team along with Josh Clarke, Alex Murphy, Cian Coleman, Billy Brooks and Rio McEvoy.
Ireland started the livelier of the two sides with Joe O'Brien-Whitmarsh going close several times in the first half. Firstly, he hit a low drive that tested the handling of goalkeeper Martin Dala. Then on the half-hour mark the Cork City man saw his attempted lob land on the roof of the net.
O'Brien-Whitmarsh, operating in the Number 10 position, found himself thwarted by Dala five minutes later when he was put through on goal and saw his effort bounce off the body of the Hungarian goalkeeper.
The breakthrough came just before half-time. Kelly-Caprani capitalised on a mistake in the Hungary backline, latching onto a loose ball and rounding the goalkeeper to slot in from a tight angle to give Ireland a deserved lead.
After the break it was 2-0. Leeds United's Coleman did superbly well to get down the right flank before delivering a dangerous cross into the six-yard-box. The ball fell to McGuinness and the Shamrock Rovers man poked it home to give Ireland a two-goal cushion.
McJannet almost topped off his fine performance with a goal of his own. He engineered an opportunity with an exchange of passes, however his left-footed effort was pushed behind for a corner. It was to be the final clear-cut chance of the second half and the game finished up 2-0.
Both teams are back in action on Thursday as Ireland looked to do the double over Hungary.
Hungary: Dala (Mergi. 46); Kaján (Sipos 77) , Korógyi (Kovács 77), Dragoner, Yaakobishvili, Szabó (Andros Gulyás 60), Molnar, Kocsis (Kiss, 60), Gruber (Auriél Gyuris 77), Bakti, Kallai.
Republic of Ireland: Clarke; Agbaje, Grehan (Fogarty 73), Heffernan, Murphy; McJannet, Coleman, O’Brien-Whitmarsh (Brooks 61), Kelly-Caprani, McGuinness, McEvoy (Pearce 61).