|Mayo native Adam Nugent (centre) struck twice for Republic of Ireland in his home county – SPORTSFILE|
|The Republic of Ireland Under-15 team started their UEFA Development Tournament with a 3-1 win over Latvia in Castlebar.|
All the goals came in the second half with Mayo native Adam Nugent hitting two and Adam Murphy netting the other as Ireland took a 3-0 lead over the visitors. Latvia struck back through Dinis Čaika for what proved a consolation goal.
Ireland were the brighter of the teams and almost took the lead from a set-piece on 24 minutes. Murphy delivered a great cross and Cathal Heffernan rose highest but his header just went wide of the post.
From the resulting goal kick Kevin Zefi put pressure onto the Latvian backline resulting in a mix-up from Ruslans Šemetovs, he could only clear to Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh whose effort was cleared from off the line.
Latvia had their best opportunity on 31 minutes. Ireland were caught in possession and a strike by the Valters Zandreiters took a slight deflection that look bound for the far corner.
In the second half Ireland’s wide play caused the visitors more issues. O’Brien Whitmarsh stayed up despite a heavy challenge and played a pass in for Caden McLoughlin whose effort was well dealt with by substitute goalkeeper Raivo Sturinš.
Ireland’s pressure paid off and they took the lead on 49 minutes. Zefi worked his way well down the left and cut it back to Murphy who found the corner with a neat finish.
They doubled their lead through the local boy Adam Nugent. Nugent, who came on as a substitute minutes earlier, converted a cross from Zefi.
Just a minute later Nugent got his second. He latched onto a through ball to calmly slot past Sturinš much to the delight of the crowd at Solar 21 Park.
Latvia were able to net a goal back on 67 minutes when Dinis Čaika fired passed Shay O’Leary.
Ireland pushed for a fourth but that was the end of the scoring in what was a great start to the tournament for the young side.
Ireland Under-15 Head Coach Donohue said after the game: “It’s great to open with a win and we got to see a lot of our players during the game.
“I felt we could have done a little bit better because we had so many chances we didn’t take but overall we’ve got to be really happy. I felt we were in control of the game and there were good passages of play. At times we may have been a little bit complacent because we were so comfortable keeping possession in our own half and that ultimately cost us a goal.”
Donohue also said his message to the players has been the hard work has just started. He added: “It’s only one of three games and if we are to use this tournament as a scenario for a European Championship in one or two years’ time a win puts you in good stead and it’s about going on and getting a second win. Now the boys must listen to our medical team eat right, rest and recover.”
Republic of Ireland: O’Leary (GK); Cowper Gray, O’Brien, Heffernan, Curtis; Ferizaj (McManus 70), Murphy (Nugent 53), O’Brien Whitmarsh, (Barrett 53); Zefi, McLoughlin (Murray 71), Tetteh (Tansey 49)
Latvia: Šemetovs (GK) (Sturinš 35); Boroduška, Atars, Grīnbergs (Vissarionovs 70), Evelons (Čaika 53); Semešk, Zandreiters, Muradjans (Putrāns 53), Nosegbe; Suškso (Cēsnieks 73), Patrikejevs (C), Žaleiko
Referee Mark Patchell (Ireland)
October 19: Ireland v Faroe Islands, Westport United, Westport, KO 3pm
October 21: Ireland v Luxembourg, Ballina Town, Ballina, KO 11am