Ex­cel­lent dis­play by Ark­low against Ire­land U-16 squad

Bray People - - Bray Sport - Daniel O’GOR­MAN

Ark­low Town 0, Ire­land 1: Ark­low Town Foot­ball Club wel­comed Ir­ish na­tional man­ager Vin­cent But­ler and his Repub­lic of Ire­land un­der 16 side to Lam­ber­ton on Wed­nes­day evening last for a game against the home club’s ac­claimed un­der -16 side.

The third fix­ture be­tween the sides over the past year proved to be a tight af­fair, sim­i­lar in pat­tern to the pre­vi­ous two en­coun­ters.

Re­turn­ing from in­jury, Town’s Jack Tim Mur­phy cre­ated the first open­ing, for Keith Arm­strong, but the lat­ter failed to cap­i­talise on the through ball.

A foul on David Mur­phy gave the Ir­ish side a free kick on the edge of the Town penalty area, and though Daniel Purdy’s ef­fort went wide it served to give Town ad­vance warn­ing of his po­tency from dead­ball sit­u­a­tions.

Paul Rice cleared well af­ter the Ir­ish put to­gether a nice move down the left flank as the na­tional team threat­ened to get on top. En­joy­ing a good spell, the na­tional side then spurned a glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­nity to score when the home de­fence was left wide open with Daniel McGuin­ness see­ing his goal-bound ef­fort su­perbly pushed around the far post by Town’s keeper, Ja­son Earls.

With the game be­ing played over three thirty minute pe­ri­ods of play; both teams made changes and Town be­gan to gain the up­per hand with a suc­ces­sion of raids down both wings.

Daniel Led­with, cut­ting in from the left, beat Ir­ish de­fender Conor Mor­ris­sey and had an ef­fort on goal su­perbly blocked by Gary Mer­ritt. Shane Mur­ray then crossed from the right wing with William Flana­gan per­fectly placed to strike.

Un­for­tu­nately for the home side Flana­gan missed his golden op­por­tu­nity. Town, en­joy­ing a strong pe­riod of dom­i­nance, went closer still mo­ments later when Dara Ver­ney saw his ef­fort re­bound off the cross­bar af­ter a goal­mouth scram­ble. The loose ball then re­bounded off the foot of the post and was cleared.

It was to prove decisive later in the game as try as they did the home side strug­gled to breach a strong Ir­ish back four.

The third pe­riod of play be­gan as the sec­ond had fin­ished, with Town still prob­ing for an open­ing. Shane Mur­ray went on a lengthy run, weav­ing his way into the Ir­ish box and his crossed ef­fort to the back post was cleared.

Tired legs be­gan to tell as the Ir­ish lads be­gan to ask ques­tions of Town’s de­fence. A late chal­lenge on Crum­lin United’s Daniel Purdy saw the Ir­ish given a free kick on the left edge of the Ark­low area. Purdy him­self stepped up to fire home the dead ball, much to the an­noy­ance of the home side who should re­ally have cleared.

A surg­ing run at the heart of the Ir­ish de­fence by Adam Han- lon al­most saw the Town player in for a clear strike on goal. How­ever, about to pull the trig­ger from the edge of the box, the im­pres­sive Robert Maloney blocked Han­lon’s goal-bound ef­fort.

The fi­nal whis­tle blew soon af­ter­wards, se­cur­ing a 1-0 win for the Ir­ish side. Ark­low, though down­beat with the man­ner in which they lost the game, can take great heart from the com­mit­ment and ap­pli­ca­tion put into giv­ing the na­tional team a stern test, ac­knowl­edged af­ter­wards by Ir­ish team man­ager Vin­cent But­ler as he pre­pares his side for a tough trek to Turkey.

The Ark­low Town U-16 team who played Ire­land.

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