Under-21 Friendly Report: Republic of Ireland 2 - 1 Iceland

Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Philip Morrissey reports from Turners Cross

The Republic of Ireland secured a good win as they prepare for their Euro 2025 qualifiers as they came from behind to beat Iceland 2-1 at Turners Cross on Sunday afternoon.

Goals in each half from Tom Cannon and Johnny Kenny gave Jim Crawford an ideal boost in their preparation for the Euro 2025 qualifiers. This was despite the dismissal of Festy Ebosele in the first half. An early goal threatened to spoil the occasion, but the underage side showed plenty of pace and graft to overcome their opposition.   

It would have been a disappointment for the Davíð Snorri Jónasson managed side. They looked to be in a decent position in the first half thanks to Kristall Mani Ingason’s effort, but faded as the game went on. Despite plenty of changes they were unable to overcome their hosts.

Jim Crawford elected to play a strong side. Sam Curtis from St Patrick’s Athletic was a late addition to the squad, and he took his place at right-back. He joined fellow League of Ireland representative Ollie O’ Neill. Tom Cannon, Festy Ebosele, Joe Hodge all took their place as they aimed to stake their claim for a spot in September’s qualifiers.

The home side started brightly as they played towards the St Mary’s End of the ground. Derry City’s Ollie O’ Neill was at the heart of most of the good work in the early stages as he aimed to replicate his club form. He was unlucky to see his attempted cross go just out before he had a shot held by Adam Ingi Beneditksson.

The visitors were dealt a blow as they were forced into an early substitution for Oli Valur Omarsson who took a knock in a challenge.

It did not seem to hinder them, however. They came forward down the right flank and fed the ball out to Kristall Mani Ingasson on the edge of the box. His curling shot was precise and found its way into the top left hand corner.

He thought he made it two shortly after with another sweeping move. His swept finish was ruled out for offside in the build up though.

Ireland were showing that they were able to get in behind the back of the Icelandic defence and drew themselves level shortly after. Andy Moran picked up the ball and he played it over the backline where Tom Cannon picked it up, advanced and shot past the keeper into the bottom corner.  

It was another ball over the top which caused the most talked about moment of the half. Festy Ebosele raced onto a ball against the last defender before they collided with one another. He reacted angrily to the decision to not award a free kick which brought a yellow card. He continued with his protests though and the referee brandished another booking before sending him off.

The front payers for Ireland were still causing issues for the visitors’ backline despite the man disadvantage. The impressive Bosun Lawall played an excellent play through for Cannon who was able to get his feet sorted in time to play in Andy Moran. Cannon did demonstrate his skills from another ball over the top as he flicked it over his shoulder to run onto. He lacked sufficient support to make much of it though.  

Iceland seemed content to employ a more patient and probing approach as they tried to unlock the Irish backline. Tiernan Brooks caught a deep cross as they played a corner short. Cannon wriggled his way through at the other end, despite being outnumbered, for a shot at the near post but Beneditksson was equal to it.

Ireland continued to play on the front foot in the second half. They came forward in numbers and Moran held the ball up for the supporting Joe Hodge. The Irish skipper had a drive from the edge of the area which was goal bound before Beneditksson tipped it away.

Lukus Logi Heimisson had a rare opportunity for the Icelanders in the second-half with a close range shot that Brooks dealt with comfortably. Their discomfort was exacerbated when Ireland had two efforts blocked on the line after a corner was only half-cleared.

Cannon came off to a decent applause and it was his replacement, Johnny Kenny, who soon put Ireland in front for the first time. Again, they were positive in the opposition half and the Shamrock Rovers striker drove in a curling effort that flew into the top corner as the defenders struggled to get it away. He almost sealed the win moments later as he turned his marker before shooting towards the bottom corner. It was just about tipped away.

Iceland tried to respond but the home side stood firm. Lawal and Hodge both providing a strong barrier in front of the defence and the likes of Sean Roughan and Anselmo Garcia MacNulty heading away whatever came their way.

Delight for the capacity crowd upon the final whistle. It will be a few months until the start of qualifiers in September for either side. It does provide a welcome headache in terms of selection and competition for places for Crawford though.  

Republic of Ireland U21: Tiernan Brooks; Sam Curtis, Anselmo Garcia MacNulty, Olabosun Lawal (Omotayo Adaramola 82), Sean Roughan; Joe Hodge, Andrew Moran (Kian Leavy 62), Killian Phillips; Tom Cannon (Johnny Kenny 76), Festy Ebosele, Oliver O'Neill (Sinclair Armstrong 62).

Subs not used: Jimmy Corcoran, Josh Keeley, James Furlong, Jay McGrath, Cian Hayes, Armstrong Oko-Flex.

Booked: Festy Ebosele (28), Festy Ebosele (29), Joe Hodge (53).

Sent off: Festy Ebosele (29).

Iceland U21: Adam Ingi Benediktsson (Olafur Kristoofer Helgason 46); Olafur Gudmundsson (Orri Hrafn Kjartansson 67), Jakob Franz Palsson, Robert Ori Thorkelsson (Oliver Stefansson 46); Andri Fannar Baldursson, Anton Logi Ludviksson, Oli Valur Omarsson (Andi Hoti 10), Isak Andri Sigurgeirsson (Ulfur Agust Bjornsson 67); Danijel Dejan Djuric , Kristall Mani Ingason , Eythor Aron Wohler (Lukas Logi Heimisson 46).

Subs not used: Arnór Gauti Jónsson, David Snaer Johannsson, Kristofer Jonsson.
Booked: None.

Referee: Jamie Robinson

Attendance: 6048

extratime.com Player of the Match: Olabosun Lawal