Category: Archive

Irish U-16s take Euro title

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

IRELAND 2, ITALY 1 It might have taken a bunch of underrated kids to do it, but at last Ireland have won a major soccer title. And though the Under 16 European championship might not compare favorably with bigger and better competitions, a stunning 2-1 victory over Italy in last Friday’s final in Perth, Scotland, sent out a hugely positive message about the standard of Irish underage soccer.

Remember, it’s been less than a year since Ireland’s Under 20 team finished third in the World Youth Cup and the Under 18s managed a fourth place in their European championship finals. Now this remarkable success has confirmed the country’s reputation as one of the world’s most progressive nurseries for soccer talent.

More than anyone, a man called Brian Kerr has been responsible for upsurge in fortunes. Ever since the arrival of Jack Charlton as international team manager in the mid-1980s sparked off an explosion in youth soccer, someone has been required to harness all the ability.

Kerr has been that person. He has managed every Irish underage team that has achieved so much over the last 18 months. A Dubliner who played for and then managed St Patrick’s Athletic, he has masterminded this revolution.

Outsiders didn’t give Ireland a prayer against Italy last Friday night, but with a team containing only one player who was born outside of the country, Kerr and his kids shifted the balance of power.

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Goals by Keith Foy and David McMahon did the trick, but the Irish had already knocked out Portugal, Denmark, Scotland and Finland along the way. Kerr and his squad received messages of congratulations from President Mary McAleese and the taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

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