Tierney and Wright goals give Crawford’s Ireland the spoils in Sweden
Ross Tierney and Tyreik Wright both found the net at the Borås Arena earlier today as the Republic of Ireland U21s boosted their European Championship qualification hopes with a 2-0 Group F victory against Sweden.
Their second triumph in succession over the Swedes – following a 1-0 triumph in Tallaght last November – this result leaves Ireland just one point adrift of today’s opponents in third place. Managed by Tallaght native Jim Crawford, they are also just four points behind table-toppers Italy with three games still to play.
While Crawford ensured there was a Tallaght connection in the dugout, his selection of Ademipo Odubeko meant there was one on the pitch as well.
Odubeko’s international future was previously the subject of much speculation, but he was given the nod for his debut at this grade and his first appearance in the green jersey since 2019.
There was also local interest on the bench, with St Patrick’s Athletic duo Darragh Burns and Joe Redmond joining Shamrock Rovers wing-back Andy Lyons amongst the reserves.
It took Ireland just 12 minutes to break the deadlock on this occasion and it was former League of Ireland star Tierney who delivered the goods.
Now at Scottish Premiership outfit Motherwell having secured a move from Bohemians at the start of the year, he hammered home after the Swedish defence failed to clear a Gavin Kilkenny delivery.
Moments after Tierney’s breakthrough, Odubeko attempted an elaborate long-distance chip after opposition netminder Samuel Brolin had drifted out of his goal.
The Mjällby AIF loanee got back in time to claim possession, but the 19-year-old Tallaght man was leading the line well throughout the opening period.
Conor Coventry and Gavin Kilkenny were combining to good effect in midfield and this enabled Ireland to remain one goal in front at the interval.
Although Sweden were generally dominating the ball in the second half, their lack of cutting edge was making it a much more comfortable occasion for their opponents than they might have expected.
Ireland were somewhat fortunate not to concede a penalty when Isak Jansson appeared to be upended by left-back Joel Bagan in the 81st-minute.
Having survived this let-off, however, the boys in green subsequently sealed all three points when Wright raced onto JJ Kayode’s knock down and found the net at the second time of asking.