|It’s Match-Day 2 for the Republic of Ireland in the 2019 UEFA European Under-19 Championships as they take on France on Thursday evening in Yerevan, Armenia.|
|A superb strike from midfielder Joe Hodge (pictured above) secured a vital point in Ireland’s Group B opener with Norway last Monday.|
Now they will come up against one of the favourites for the tournament, who dispatched Czech Republic 3-0 in their first game. But Tom Mohan’s side are ready for the challenge of playing against France.
Republic of Ireland v France
Thursday, 18 July
Banants Stadium, Yerevan
Kick-Off: 18:00 (Irish Time)
Live on TV: RTÉ2
Referee: Kristo Tohver (Estonia)
Tyreik Wright returns from suspension, while Festy Ebosele and Ciaran Brennan should be available following a bout of illness.
Republic of Ireland Head Coach Tom Mohan
“The game against Norway was very good for our players as many of them had not played since March or April, so playing at such high intensity will stand to them going into the France game.
“To play against a top team like France in the UEFA European Championships is what this is all about. We set out last year with the target of qualifying for this tournament and we achieved that. Now, the goal is to embrace this fantastic opportunity and play our football in the way that we know that we can.
“The first game against Norway gave us a lot of plus points as it showcased our resilience to fight back from a sloppy early period where we conceded, but also to play some really good football in the second half. We created some good chances and Joe Hodge scored a great goal. Joe was one of three Under-17 players to make their Under-19 debut that night and they didn’t look out of place against a good team.
“The aftermath of every game is important, especially when involved in a tournament because there is such a quick turnaround for your next game. That is why the expertise of our doctor Andrew Delany, physio Michael Spillane, and masseur Mickey McGlynn has been crucial in helping the players get through their recovery. Our analysts, Martin Doyle, Mickey Feeney, and Mark Scanlon, have also done excellent work in this period as we had to review our own performance as well as prepare for France.
“We went to see France against Czech Republic and they were very impressive. They are a good team with a lot of very exciting players, but we are looking forward to coming up against them.
“The players have been incredibly receptive to feedback – as they have been throughout this entire campaign – and we held team & individual meetings with them over the last two days. The atmosphere amongst the squad is a positive one and we feel that we can perform even better than we did against Norway.
“Securing the point in our first game was crucial and now we have to build on that. The later kick-off time should help as it was 34 degrees when we kicked off against Norway, but we are prepared to tackle any obstacle that comes in our way and we are ready for this next test.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (St Patrick’s Athletic), George McMahon (Burnley)
Defenders: Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Jack James (Unattached), Kameron Ledwidge (Southampton), Ciaran Brennan (Sheffield Wednesday)
Midfielders: Joe Hodge (Manchester City), Lee O’Connor (Manchester United), Barry Coffey (Celtic), Niall Morahan (Sligo Rovers), Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers), Conor Grant (Sheffield Wednesday)
Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Unattached), Ali Reghba (Leicester City), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa), Matt Everitt (Brighton & Hove Albion), Festy Ebosele (Derby County)
– Ireland have qualified for this tournament twice since it was regraded to Under-19 level – finishing fourth in 2002 under Brian Kerr, and reaching the semi-finals in 2011 with Paul Doolin
– Before it was regraded to Under-19 level, Ireland won the tournament in 1998 when it was called the UEFA European Youth Championship
– Ireland were the only team to qualify having won their six games across the Qualifying Round and Elite Round
– In the last two years, where a number of the current players have been involved, Ireland have won nine, drew twice, and lost just once (to eventual European champions Portugal)
– There has only been one meeting between these teams at Under-19 level when France won 2-0 in a qualifier in 2009
– France have won this tournament eight times, most recently in 2016, and finished as runners-up on three occasions
– In qualification, France beat Malta, Lithuania, Switzerland and Israel, while they drew with Belgium and Poland (scoring 16 goals and conceding four overall)
HOW IRELAND QUALIFIED
10 October, 2018: Republic of Ireland 3-1 Bosnia & Herzegovina
13 October, 2018: Republic of Ireland 3-0 Faroe Islands
16 October, 2018: Republic of Ireland 2-1 Netherlands
20 March, 2019: Republic of Ireland 5-0 Romania
23 March, 2019: Republic of Ireland 3-1 Azerbaijan
26 March, 2019: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Russia
Game Hashtag: #IRLFRA
Tournament Hashtag: #U19EURO
Ireland Team Hashtag: #IRLU19
Monday, 15 July: Republic of Ireland 1-1 Norway, Yerevan Football Academy Stadium
Thursday, 18 July: Republic of Ireland v France, Banants Stadium, Yerevan, KO 18:00 (Irish Time) – Live on RTÉ2
Sunday, 21 July: Republic of Ireland v Czech Republic, Yerevan Football Academy Stadium, KO 18:00 (Irish Time) – Live on RTÉ2
– 54 nations entered into qualifying for this year’s tournament, plus hosts Armenia
– With 370 goals scored in qualifying, there was an average of 3.08 goals per game
– Each team will be permitted five substitutions (maximum of three stoppages of play)
– Two groups of four teams will compete for the four Semi-Final spots on offer
– Group A consists of Armenia, Italy, Spain, and reigning champions Portugal
– The Semi-Finals will be played on 24 July, with the Final being staged on 27 July
– This is the 18th edition of this tournament (68th if Under-18 & Junior eras included)