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Five-star Ireland on fire

Noel King began his reign as Ireland Under-21 manager with an emphatic 5-0 victory to end a miserable recent run.

Three defeats and four draws in Group Two in qualifying for the European Under-21 Championships recently brought an end to Don Givens' 10-year spell in charge.

Due to his successes with Ireland's women at all levels, King came highly recommended and has appreciably made an immediate impact. However, he will now step aside for the final two group games in order to coach the women's Under-17 side in their World Cup finals in Trinidad & Tobago next month.

The FAI's international high performance director and former Holland international Wim Koevermans, who suggested King for the Under-21 role, will step in for the away games with Switzerland and Turkey.

At least King can head to the Caribbean with a 100% record in his new position courtesy of a stunning display from Hibernian winger Anthony Stokes at Tallaght Stadium.

That was not before Bristol City goalkeeper Stephen Henderson had pulled off two fine saves in the opening five minutes to deny Artjom Dmitrijev.

Stokes then struck the opener in the 15th minute, the 22-year-old rifling a right-foot shot past Marko Meerits from 15 yards after turning inside Aleksei Jahhimovits.

Just before the half hour Stokes then cheekily chipped Meerits from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Marek Kaljumae.

Stokes should have completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute, only to plant a header a yard over in meeting Owen Garvan's right-wing free-kick.

But the man of the match brilliantly played a part in the three goals that followed for Wigan midfielder James McCarthy, Everton defender Seamus Coleman and Crystal Palace midfielder Garvan.


From Belfast Telegraph