Ireland is through to the Quarter-Finals of the Under-17s European Championships after a 4-2 win against tournament hosts Hungary on Thursday. Goals from St. Patrick’s Athletic pair Luke Kehir and Mason Melia helped Colin O'Brien's side advance on the night.
Ireland knew that only a win would keep them in the tournament, and the Boys in Green took the lead in the fifth minute through Kehir. Shortly after, Hungary hit back due to an unfortunate own goal by Jake Grante.
Melia put Ireland back in front in the 24th minute after winning a header from a corner.
Just before the break, Melia, who made his League of Ireland debut this month at the age of 15, was on hand to poke the ball over the line for his second goal. His brace meant that O'Brien's side were 3-1 up at the break.
Our young Boys in Green heading to the last 8 of the #U17EURO
You love to see it! 🇮🇪#IRLU17 | #COYBIG | #U17EURO pic.twitter.com/L4tmFjXyfY
— Ireland Football ⚽️🇮🇪 (@IrelandFootball) May 23, 2023
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Kehir found the top corner with a beautifully measured strike, extending the scoreline to 4-1 in the second half.
Although Hungary managed to score again, Ireland held on and finished second behind Poland in Group A.
Ireland Men’s Under-17s Head Coach Colin O’Brien said: “It’s great experience for the players. I thought it was a very mature performance from the team. Some of the performances at certain stages were excellent and we had to show resilience. The boys stayed calm under pressure when the game got away from us at times. It’s great to see that because it means they’re growing and they’re developing.
Goalscorer Meila added: “We’re the youngest squad here. I’m so proud of them because they’re a great bunch of lads, brilliant personalities, great values and the quality is there as well.”
"I’m buzzing, just so happy for the lads," he said.
"I was just looking for my goals, and I knew they were there. As soon as I got the first one, it was the best feeling I’ve ever felt, when the second went in, it was just amazing."
UEFA European U17 Championship results and fixture (all times are Irish time)Wednesday, May 17 | Poland MU17 5-1 Ireland MU17 Saturday, May 20 | Ireland MU17 3 v 0 Wales MU17 Tuesday, May 23 | Ireland MU17 4-2 Hungary MU17 Saturday, May 30 | UEFA European U17 Championship Quarter Final, Ireland MU17 v TBC, KO and Venue TBC
Ireland: Healy, Babb, Turley (C), Grante, O’Sullivan, McGrath, Akachukwu, Razi (Moore, 75) Orazi (Murray, 88), Kehir, Melia (Oksoun, 67).Hungary: Yaakobishvili, Girsik, Umathum, Kaczvinski, Hornyàk (Burghart, 76), Varga (Demkó, 86), Fenyö (Szabó, 46), Kern (C), Németh (Somfalvi, 76’), Simon, Molnar (Vidnyànszjy, 76)