herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Long on target but Southgate's Lions prove just too powerful for Ireland

u21 friendly: england 3 Ireland 1

NOEL King says it was a good week's work for his Ireland U21 side even though they went down 3-1 to a star-studded England outfit.

Having lost 2-1 to an England C team on Monday, the Irish boys hoped to get revenge when they took on the full England U21 panel in a training game at the FA's training HQ at St George's Park yesterday, but the Premier League stars of Gareth Southgate's team were too strong.

England stormed into a 3-0 lead with early goals from Tom Carroll, Saido Berahino and Nat Chalobah, though Reading lad Sean Long got one back for Ireland.

"It was a very good exercise against an excellent England team with several household names and our lads had to work very hard to stay in the game," said King (right).

"The second half was particularly pleasing as we started to grow in confidence. England scored some fantastic goals which showed the quality that they have but we grew into it and scored an excellent goal ourselves.

"All of this week has been about building for the qualifiers. We play Qatar in a friendly in September then Andorra in the qualifiers as we look to build on our winning start in March."

Southgate was able to call on Premier League regulars like John Stones, Michael Keane (a former U19 cap with Ireland), Tom Carroll and Saido Berahino, and they deserved their half-time lead.

But Royals prospect Long got Ireland back into the game with a well-taken goal after he was set up by Callum O'Dowda while subs Sean Maguire and Bradley Garmston (both without a club) and Pierce Sweeney also impressed. King's side enjoyed a winning start to the qualifiers for Euro 2015 by beating Andorra in March and have their next qualifier away to Andorra in September.

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