After the appointment of Stephen Kenny as Ireland U21 manager, there has been a lot of excitement around this talented group of players for months now. After being handed a tricky group in the Toulon Tournament, this fantastic young team went on to qualify for the tournament semi-finals against all the odds.
They recorded 7 points from 9 with wins against China and Bahrain as well as a hard fought scoreless draw against a very good Mexico U22 side. This was followed by a tricky semi final which seen us lose 2-0 against Brazil’s U22s. This was the same Brazil side who went on to win the tournament, beating Japan in the final.
The third place play-off saw a repeat of our second group game where we faced Mexico. Once again, the sides couldn’t be separated in normal time, playing out another 0-0 draw. It took a penalty shoot-out to separate these two evenly matched sides and unfortunately it was Mexico who came out 4-3 winners in that one. Many will argue that the boys in green were unlucky to not have clinched the game in normal time.
Young Brighton star, Jayson Molumby was named as one the competition’s top 4 players. Molumby showed off his outstanding leadership qualities throughout the tournament having captained the side for 4 out of the 5 games.
Even though we were one of the youngest teams taking part, this was the first ever Irish side to reach the last four of this particular competition. These players and their management team should be extremely proud of all they’ve achieved over these last few weeks. They’ve managed to open the eyes of many Irish football fans across the country and no doubt there’ll be a lot more to come from this group. The future of Irish football is looking bright!