Ireland v Israel report
The Republic of Ireland Under-16s produced a battling performance on Wednesday to earn a scoreless draw against Israel in the second game of this week’s double-header at the Ness Ziona Stadium in Tel Aviv.
Following the 2-2 draw between the nations on Monday, Ireland manager John Morling made seven changes to his starting line-up and they found themselves facing sustained pressure in the early stages.
The Irish defence stayed firm, though, and restricted the hosts to only half-chances which were dealt with by goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell of Buncranna Harps.
At the other end, free-scoring Michael Drennan went close to grabbing his fifth goal in his last three matches when he shook off a challenge but angled his drive wide.
The second half started promisingly for Ireland as they settled into a rhythm and posed a far more of an attacking threat. Striker Adam Evans burst through on goal after being released by Drennan only to fire a shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Substitute James Murphy made his presence felt up front after being introduced and was at the hub of the action in last ten minutes.
Moments after testing the goalkeeper with a shot, the Reading striker had another attempt on target which the stopper palmed away.
The rebound fell invitingly into the path of the inrushing Kenny McEvoy but he couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew over the crossbar.
Ireland manager John Morling spoke afterwards about the benefits accrued from the two matches this week.
“This was a vital exercise for us because the pair of games served to re-condition our players who had hardly played much football for the past month due to the adverse weather,” he said.
“All 18 players got to start one of the two matches and I was pleased with their efforts. We were unlucky not to win on Monday, having led 2-1 deep into stoppage time, but today Israel had more of the possession and we had to battle hard in stages.
“A high-point of our season comes on February 2-9 when we travel to the Algarve for a Four-nation tournament against Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands. These two games, therefore, provided the players with much-needed football and will prepare them better for those matches against top-class opposition.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
Conor O’Donnell (Buncranna Harps): John Kavanagh (Ringmahon Rangers); Steven Smith (Arsenal), Jamie Smith (Cherry Orchard), Shane Griffin (Carrigaline United); Darragh Lenihan (Belvedere FC), Rhys Healy (Fairview Rangers), Sami Ade Osobe (Glenmuir United), Michael Drennan (Evergreen); Brandon Miele (Cherry Orchard), Adam Evans (Belvedere FC).
Subs: Eoin Hyland (Belvedere FC) for Kavanagh (half-time), Kenny McEvoy (Villa, Waterford) for Healy (48 mins), Kealan Dillon (Belvedere FC) for Lenihan (60 mins), James Murphy (Reading) for Evans (65 mins) and Carel TioFack (Ballincollig AFC) for Miele (75 mins).