Republic of Ireland 2 Poland 2
CORK native Mark O’Mahony’s third goal in three games helped the Republic of Ireland battle back from two goals down to earn a draw with Poland at Turner’s Cross on Wednesday which sees them finish the European U17 championship 2022 qualifying round top of their group.
A brace from Oliwier Slawinski had Poland 2-0 ahead midway through the first half but O’Mahony’s finish and a stunning free-kick by Justin Ferizaj ensured Ireland progress to the Elite Round of the qualifiers next spring as group winners.
Ireland started brightly with O’Mahony and Rocco Vata, who scored their two goals in their win over North Macedonia last Sunday evening, testing the keeper with strikes from distance inside the opening ten minutes.
But by the 20th minute, the Republic somehow found themselves 2-0 with Poland punishing some hesitant defending to take control of proceedings.
The first goal came after Heffernan bundled Oliwier Slawinski over inside the penalty area, giving the striker the opportunity to coolly tuck his spot-kick into the bottom right corner.
And the second came eight minutes later with the number four again doing the honours as he cleverly shouldered Maciej Bochniak’s cross into the net when unmarked a few yards out.
But the young boys in green would grab a lifeline just before the half an hour mark and it was that man Mark O’Mahony that got it for his third game in as many games.
In those previous matches, the City forward came close to regaining the ball from the keeper with his pressing on numerous occasions.
But this time he finally got his reward as he forced the opposition number one into relinquishing possession before rolling it into the empty net on the turn.
His clubmate Franco Umeh sent a curler just over the target before the half time break and the introduction of Justin Ferizaj during the interval ensured Ireland remained in control of this contest.
And it was Ferizaj's stunning free on the hour, which he sensationally curled into the top left corner from 25 yards that earned Ireland a share of the spoils.