Ireland looking forward to u19’s European Championship

The Republic of Ireland Under-19s are hoping to continue their fine form shown in the elite qualifying campaign right into the European Championship finals this summer.

Ireland were the first team to qualify for this years finals, and they did so in impressive style.

Tom Mohan’s charges enjoyed wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands and the Netherlands in the Qualifying Round, followed by victories over Romania, Azerbaijan and Russia in the Elite Round. This leaves Ireland as the only side to win six games from six en route to the Tournament Finals in Armenia, in July.

Midfielder Richie O Farrell insists the form shown in their road to qualifying is vital for their confidence heading into the finals.

“Six wins from six, you can’t ask for much more than that really.

“I felt we played excellent in every game and i think we conceded only once, this was a huge positive for us in our preparations.

“So as a team we’re just hoping we can bring the same confidence and continue the same form into the finals in July,” said the UCD player.

Despite coasting through the games in rather comfortable fashion, O’ Farrell, a native of Stillorgan, said the travelling to Russia for the three games wasn’t easy, but will prepare them well for their expedition in July.

“It certainly wasn’t easy.

“There was plenty travel – I think it was something like 17 hours it took us to get there – but this experience will only stand to us in July,” he said.

The finals, which start on July 14th, will see Richie and his teammates joined by Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Norway, France, Portugal and hosts Armenia.

When asked if they will be fazed by meeting such footballing powerhouses as Spain and France, the Dubliner said: “I think when you get to the last eight of any competition really, you want to win it.

“With those big teams in mind, you also have the likes of Czech Republic, Norway and Armenia for example. We would definitely fancy our chances against these guys.

“Having beating the Netherlands already, we feel we’d give anyone a game on our day.”

The 18 year old said their manager Tom Mohan will have them ready for the challenge ahead.

“He sets us up really well for games. Not just tactically, but mentally as well, he’d have us ready for whatever or whoever faces us.”

“He’s great with all of us, and he’s so passionate. He’ll 100% have us prepared for when we kick off on July 14th.”

O Farrell added “it’s meant to be mid 40 degrees in Armenia during the summer” but is confident the team will be “well prepared for it”.

Ireland last qualified for the Under-19 finals tournament in 2011 – when they reached the semi-finals – while they won the competition outright in 1998 after overcoming Germany in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Ireland’s senior team’s assistant manager Robbie Keane was the driving force behind Ireland’s success in 1998, grabbing three goals at the finals which were held in Cyprus.

The powerful midfielder feels they too have enough talent in their squad to reach the same heights achieved by ireland in 1998, and win the competition outright.

“If you look around at the players we have in the squad there’s a number of lads in and around first teams and performing really well in the under 23s premier league week in week out.

“I’d go back to that Holland game again which we won 2-1 as an example of how we’re more than capable of holding our own at this level.

“We know we’ll need to be at our best to win the tournament, but it’s a great opportunity to achieve something big and show the talent we have, on the biggest stage.”

Littered with quality players ranging from League Of Ireland members in O’ Farrell (UCD) and Andy Lyons(Bohemians), to players cross channel in Mark McGuinness (Arsenal) and Jonathan Afolabi (Southampton), here’s hoping the talented squad have what it takes to succeed in their quest for glory this July.

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