This afternoon Aghadrumsee’s Tom Mohan will take charge as the Republic of Ireland u19s bid for a place in the European Championship final in Armenia.
His side booked their place in the last four with 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday.
The Republic took the lead with a first-half goal from Jonathan Afolabi. Vasil Kusej gave his side a lifeline with a 79th minute goal, but Barry Coffey hit an instant response to ensure Mohan’s Boys in Green made the semi-final.
Speaking after the game the Fermanagh man was elated.
“I’m full of pride at the minute, the boys were fantastic. With our backs to the wall they dug so deep. Under real pressure we played out against a really strong, aggressive well organised team. The boys showed great courage. They put their foot on the ball in the middle period of that second half when we needed fellas to stand up.
“That just shows what the boys have in them. They get those set-backs and disappointments and they keep coming back.
“As well as the courage, there’s the quality they’ve shown. The goal was a fantastic goal. It reflects the spirit in the camp. They’re great fellas, they’ve a never say did attitude and we’re just absolutely delighted.
However the win came at a cost, with late yellow cards ruling out captain and Manchester United player Lee O’Connor and vice captain Afolabi from the semi-final clash with the reigning European champions.
“It’s a bitter one because both Jonny and Lee are big, big players for us over the years at u19,” said Mohan.
“However, we won’t allow it affect the joy of winning the game and reaching the semis. This is for so many people in Irish football who have helped these young lads come through at grass roots.”
One man who will be watching this afternoon with keen interest is Tom’s Brother, John, an Aghadrumsee St Macartan’s club man.
“It is a bit of a dull note the two guys picking up the yellow cards,” said John Mohan. “It is fierce unfortunate, but you don’t know what will come out of the panel to replace them.
“He [Tom] was dealt a bad hand going out with majority of his first team basically gone. A lot of his panel has progressed on to senior clubs and it was a big blow for the Republic, especially Tottenham’s Troy Parrott who played for Spurs against Juventus – that was a big dent. Tom’s aim is to develop these players and make them better to be available for Ireland.”
However John says the work brother Tom has put into the squad means the Irish certainly won’t lack for heart going into this afternoon’s big game.
“There is a great camradie within the team and the good manners and respect that the players have for other people. It is incredible the work he puts into it. He spends a lot of time going over to England to watch players, as well as travelling around Ireland.
“Up and down the country there are coaches and volunteers doing work to get these fellas from their own clubs at underage level and helped to develop them and make them the people they are. Tom has always been thankful for these people.”
Should the Republic get the better of Portgal, they will be taking on the winners of France and Spain in the final on Saturday at 5.30pm.
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Posted: 12:42 pm July 24, 2019