Ireland U19 coach Paul Doolin believes former Manchester United youth striker Sam Byrne can drive his side to the UEFA Championships after his brace against Iceland sees Ireland top of Group 4. Turkey are next up on Friday, 7pm in Tallaght Stadium and Doolin praised his star striker for bouncing back after the disappointment of being released by United.
“Hopefully he had put that disappointment behind him,” said Doolin. “He has been great for us. He might have been a bit disappointed over the last while. Of course you would be. You are young. You have been let go from one of the biggest clubs in the World, if not the biggest clubs in the World. But he can score goals. This is his age group. To have him with us is a great plus and hopefully he will get a couple more from us. If you look at Sam Byrne’s record, he has scored 10 goals for us in about 13 international games which is a fantastic return.
“We didn’t have him in Sweden and we topped the group. Azerbijan, Bosnia and Sweden in a group – it’s an elite phase. So out of 12 points we’ve got 10 out of our last four internationals and we will now look to Turkey. Sam has come in and of course he is probably feeling down and would be wrong if he wasn’t.
“He’s looking for a club. Certainly done himself no harm. I drill it into him about saying central because he can head a ball. he is a good lad. He has been with me for the past two years. Obviously going to Carlisle, getting relegated and maybe not playing because he’s young. He scored twice and hopefully something happens for him.”
Ireland will be without Noe Baba who picked up a yellow card against Iceland to add to the one he carried over from the previous qualification round. Doolin believes he has adequate cover for Baba as he was pleased with a defensive display against a team which fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with France .
“Ryan Robinson, Sean Long and perhaps Alan Browne could move into right back so that’s a decision we have to make. We looked at the first half of our game. I have to say that over the 90 minutes we defended well although our first half attacking was just okay, in the second half we were better. I was pleased that we were able to see the game out when they came back at us. I’m delighted with the result. There’s things we could be better at but now it’s time to concentrate on tomorrow’s game.”
Both Turkey and Serbia had a man sent off in their 1-1 draw, with defender Süheyl Çetin missing the Irish game with the two yellow cards he picked up. The draw gives Ireland a great chance of qualifying for their first European Championships proper since 2011.
“In tournament football crucial to get a result in your first game, even a draw can help, the fact we’ve got the three points is great. For the players to take 10 points from the last 12 available to them in competitive games is very good.
“This group of lads has done very well so far. We’ve started well and need to build on it. Sam can score goals if given the right service. Again we’ll look to make sure this group goes to the last day at the very least.”