Luxembourg 2 Republic of Ireland 5
MIKEY DRENNAN bagged a hat-trick as Paul Doolin’s Republic of Ireland Under-19 side began their UEFA Championships Qualifying Round Group Five fixtures with a 5-2 victory over hosts Luxembourg in Hesperange tonight.
The Aston Villa striker gave Ireland the perfect start when he found the net in the eighth minute getting on the end of a cross from Bradley Garmston to knock home from inside the six-yard box.
Drennan added a second Irish goal in the 21st minute following good work down the right by Sam Byrne whose cross was eventually pulled back by Garmston once more to Drennan who controlled the ball and finished acrobatically.
Captain Tommy Hoban of Watford made it 3-0 in the 27th minute with a diving header at the back post following a Kieran Sadlier box after an Irish free kick.
Christopher Pereira gave Luxembourg hope when he found the net in the 43rd minute after he connected superbly with a Michel Bechtold free-kick which gave the Irish goalkeeper Ian Lawlor little chance.
Ireland regained control of the game when Sam Byrne tapped in from two yards out to beat keeper Luca Ivesic in the 55th minute after Garmston drilled a low cross from the left wing having beaten the Luxembourg centre back.
Milos Todorovic responded for Luxembourg in the 78th minute when Ireland failed to properly clear a Luxembourg free kick which allowed Todorovic to send a looping header over the Irish goalkeeper.
Drennan completed his hat-trick in the 80th minute when he fired home a stunning free-kick from 30 yards out to wrap up the scoring.
Ireland boss Doolin said: “I’m delighted with the result and the fantastic performance from the team tonight. To score five goals at the start of the competition is a great start and I was very pleased with the performance.
“I’m a little disappointed that we conceded two goals, particularly from set-pieces, however with the way that we played it looked like the only way that Luxembourg were going to score. However, overall it was an outstanding performance which is so important when starting a tournament to give you a chance to progress from the group.”
Germany beat FYR Macedonia 5-0 in the other fixture in Group Five this evening. The Irish meet the Macedonians on Saturday then Germany on Tuesday. The top two nations qualify for the Elite Qualifying Round with the finals tournament in Lithuania next summer.
LUXEMBOURG: Ivesic, Mastrangelo, Eires, Dragović, Bechtold, Borges, Holter (Moro 46), Luisi, Clemmensen (Kerger 46), Pereira (Goncalves 77), Todorovic.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Ian Lawlor, Noe Baba, Pierce Sweeney, Thomas Hoban, Shane Griffin, Luke Gallagher, Kieran Sadlier (Ryan Coombes 88), Kealan Dillon (Brandon Miele 76), Bradley Garmston, Sam Byrne, Michael Drennan (Conor Wilkinson 82).
Saturday October 13
FYR Macedonia v Republic of Ireland, Hesperange (4.00pm Irish)
Tuesday October 16
Republic of Ireland v Germany, Grevenmacher (6.00pm Irish)