herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

Molumby and U21 crew are not feeling surface tensions

Jayson Molumby. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Jayson Molumby. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ireland Under-21 captain Jayson Molumby arrived in Iceland on Saturday just in time to see his Brighton team-mate Aaron Connolly make his senior international debut.

Connolly's blistering bow as a substitute was one of the few highlights of the stalemate in Georgia. The U21s are in Iceland ahead of tomorrow's Euro qualifier, a win from which would extend their lead at the top of the group.

"Our flight into Reykjavik landed as the game was kicking off, so we had to watch the match on our phones and laptops," said the 20-year-old Waterford-born midfielder.

"It was brilliant to see Aaron get on the pitch and show what he can do. I don't think there's a player like him in the senior squad. I knew he wouldn't be fazed at making his debut."

Molumby's season-loan move to Millwall has taken flight in recent weeks after an injury stalled his early inroads. "I've played the last four of five games," he explained. "Beating Leeds United in our last game, just a few days after the manager Neil Harris left, was a big boost."

Top seeds Italy last Thursday ended Ireland's winning start to the campaign by playing out a scoreless draw at Tallaght Stadium.

In contrast to that sell-out crowd, only a few hundred are expected to attend the contest being played in mid-afternoon on an artificial pitch in temperatures lurching downwards towards freezing.

Iceland had also enjoyed a promising start to the campaign by beating Luxembourg and Armenia. That came to an abrupt end on Saturday when second seeds Sweden hammered them 5-0. "I'm not sure what reaction we'll get from Iceland but it doesn't change our plan to beat them," said Molumby. "We've been training on 3G pitches for the last few days. Of course, the surface is different but there won't be any excuses from our side."

Besides missing Connolly, Troy Parrott is suspended and Jonathan Afolabi is injured. Striker Michael Obafemi could make his first U-21 start.

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