THE Republic of Ireland U15 team continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-1 friendly win over Poland at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Goals from Shamrock Rovers’ Kevin Zefi and Cork City defender Cathal Heffernan secured the victory for Jason Donohue’s side on a chilly night in Galway.
Heffernan, the son of high-profile Leeside athletes Rob and Marian Heffernan, has been in impressive form in recent months for club and country.
Another Rebel, Cork City's Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh was introduced after 52 minutes.
Ireland won three games in Mayo recently, in the first phase of the U15 Development Tournament.
In the first of a double-header between the two teams, it was the hosts who started the better. Captain James McManus came close to breaking the deadlock for Ireland but it was a Zefi wonder goal on 32 minutes that opened the scoring.
The forward collected the ball inside his own half and played a one-two with Caden McLaughlin. Zefi closed in on the angle of the area, skipped past a defender, feinted to shoot to beat another then cooly rolled the ball past Jan Sobczuk in the Polish goal The start to the second half was a much tighter affair with Poland sitting deep and looking to press Ireland.
But on the 50th minute came what proved to be the winning goal. Luke O’Brien’s inswinging free-kick wasn’t cleared properly by the Polish defence. Sam Curtis headed the ball back across goal for Heffernan to nod in from close range.
The two-goal cushion only lasted two minutes when the visitors struck back through Marcel Szymanski to make the contest a much nervier affair.
Alex Nolan of Cabinteely and Rocco Vata of Celtic were introduced later on in the game for their international debuts but the home side managed to see out the contest to record their fourth win in four games.
IRELAND: Walsh; O’Brien, Curtis, Heffernan, Cowper Gray; Ferizaj (Nolan 64), McManus (c) (Barrett 69), Murphy (Vata 64); Zefi, McLaughlin (Nugent 64), Tetteh (Whitmarsh-O’Brien 52).
TODAY: Ireland v Poland, 12pm, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway United