Jim Crawford pleased to finish campaign on a positive note

Sat, Nov 21 2020

None Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Jim Crawford was in upbeat mood following his sides 2-1 win over Luxembourg, despite narrowly losing out earlier in the week on qualification for the European Championships next year.

His talented side faced into this week knowing a maximum haul of six points from the games against Iceland and Luxembourg would have almost certainly been enough to see them secure a place at next year’s tournament as one of the top five runners-up.

An own goal and the concession of a 90th minute winner in the 2-1 loss to Iceland last Sunday saw the matchweek begin in the worst way possible and end the chances of Crawford's exciting side participating next year.

Despite such a disappointing conclusion to the campaign, Jim Crawford, as he summed up his thoughts and feelings overall, displayed a positive and upbeat figure with his focus turning immediately now towards the next campaign.

"It was great to get the win," reflected Crawford after the win over Luxembourg. “I thought we played well, created chances even with them sitting deep and we did our job professionally.

"We got around the side of them plenty of times and were a real threat at set pieces.”

That attacking threat came to fruition perfectly on 35 minutes against Luxembourg with exciting prospect Joshua Kayode rising highest to meet Darragh Leahy's cross and power home his headed effort for a goal on his full debut at this level.

"I think one of the major plusses from the game was Joshua Kayode. He was a real handful, scored a fantastic goal and had a very good full debut. Mark McGuiness as well was excellent, a great performance. Both of these players are young lads who will still play in the under-21 campaign next year and are two players to get very excited about.

“It was important for us to finish the group with three points, put in a good performance and finish the campaign on a positive note.”

20-year-old Kayode couldn't have dreamed of a better debut scoring a fine goal and enjoying an all round strong performance. After the game he expressed his delight and having gotten the taste of a goal at this level is already raring to go for the next campaign.

"I'm absolutely buzzing. It was a great ball in to me by Darragh [Leahy]. We've been working on it, strikers getting across the front and into the box." said Kayode after the game.

"I'm just happy to have been in the right place and to have got my first goal, it means a lot to me. I'm gutted that we haven't qualified but we've ended the campaign positively and with three points and that was the main thing.

"We spoke about that being our goal before we left the changing room, to go out and get the win and use it as a stepping stone for the next campaign. We've gone out and got the job done in a professional way which is great."