Belfast Telegraph

Young guns sink Welsh as Republic of Ireland retain title

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland schoolboys concluded their Victory Shield with a 1-0 win over Wales at the Bangor Fuels Arena yesterday but it wasn't enough to lift the glittering prize as Republic of Ireland were crowned champions for the second year in a row.

The Republic overcame Scotland 2-0 in the opening fixture to finish unbeaten and prevent their neighbours from claiming bragging rights. Paul Osam's side had beaten Northern Ireland 1-0 on Monday and goals from Matt Everitt and Armstrong Oko-Flex ensured the Republic ended the competition with seven points from three games.

Darren Murphy's Northern Ireland team bounced back from the Republic loss to beat Scotland 2-1 at Seaview on Wednesday with goals from Alberto Balde and Peter McKiernan before making it two wins on a spin yesterday.

Chris Hutchinson slotted home Northern Ireland's first half penalty after Peter McKiernan was brought down in the box.

"Congratulations to the Republic," said Murphy. "It all came down to Monday's game where we gave away a penalty and lost 1-0 but I'm really proud to see the boys beat Scotland and Wales.

"It's difficult for the kids to stomach coming so close to winning the Shield but overall, it's been a good week and well supported. The highlight for me is the way we have competed, getting six points. The players have had a really good time."

Triumphant Republic boss Paul Osam said: "We had some targets to hit before the tournament.

"One of those goals was to have three clean sheets. Keeping clean sheets always gives you a chance and we kept two in three games, which was the bedrock for us winning the tournament."

Belfast Telegraph

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