JOHNNY Kenny made sure that the Republic of Ireland U21s returned to Cork in style as they came from behind to beat Iceland 2-1 at Turner’s Cross.
A crowd of 6,048 turned up to see the team come back to Leeside after a 14-year absence and they were treated to first-half goals from Kristall Mani Ingason and Tom Cannon.
The only blot on what was otherwise a perfect afternoon for Jim Crawford’s team was the dismissal of Festy Ebosele midway through the first half after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession.
Ireland were comfortable in their surroundings and forced an early chance through Cannon, who fired over at the St Anne’s End. It seemed like everything was going according to plan, but Kristall Mani Ingason scored with Iceland’s first attack in the fourteenth minute.
The visitors then thought they doubled their lead in the 21st minute when Kristall Mani Ingason knocked the ball in from close range inside the area, but this was ruled out for offside in the build-up.
Ireland had a perfect response to this as Andy Moran won the ball in midfield and sent it over the top to Cannon. The Preston North End striker slotted in neatly past the Icelandic goalkeeper and tied things up.
As the whole stadium sat back down, Ebosele received two yellow cards and Ireland were reduced to 10. It was a quick-fire spell in the game, with everything happening over a 10-minute period.
Ireland closed out the first half with a corner from Sean Roughan that Killian Philips headed wide at the back post.
Iceland brought on four players at the start of the second half and as they adjusted to the pace of the game, Moran picked off a stray pass from Olafur Gudmundsson on the half-way line and charged through on goal. He set up Joe Hodge and the Ireland captain’s shot was stopped by Olafur Kristofer Helgason, who just came on.
Crawford changed things up midway through the second half by bringing on Kian Leavy, Sinclair Armstrong, and Johnny Kenny. Armstrong immediately got involved by bursting down the right wing and winning a corner. This caused chaos inside the penalty area and the referee blew for a free out as Roughan tried to put the ball back in.
Kenny’s moment sealed the win with the Celtic striker, who is on loan at Shamrock Rovers, driving the ball in and across the goal inside the area. He should have had a second with his next touch but this was saved. Hodge ended the game by hitting the crossbar.
Tiernan Brooks; Sam Curtis, Sean Roughan, Anslemo Garcia MacNulty, Joe Hodge, Festy Ebosele, Bosun Lawal, Tom Cannon, Andy Moran, Ollie O’Neill, Killian Philips.
Kian Leavy for Moran (62), Sinclair Armstrong for O’Neill (62), Johnny Kenny for Cannon (76).
Adam Ingi Benediktsson; Jakob Franz Palsson, Oliver Stefansson, Olafur Gudmundsson, Anton Logi Ludviksson, Andri Fannar Baldursson, Eythor Aron Wohler, Kristall Mani Ingason, Isak Andri Sigurgeirsson, Oli Valur Omarsson, Daniel Dejan Djuric.
Andi Hoti for Valur Omarsson (5), Olafur Kristofer Helgason for Ingi Benediktsson (45), Robert Orri Thorkelsson for Stefansson (45), Kristofer Jonsson for Anton Logi Ludviksson (45), Lukas Logi Heimisson for Mani Ingason (45), Ulfur Agust Bjornsson for Andri Sigurgeirsson (68), Orri Hrafn Kjartansson for Olafur Gudmundsson (68).