Scotland’s kids gave an exciting glimpse into the future yesterday as they hammered Ireland in Limerick in a hugely-impressive showing to clinch qualification for next year’s Euro U19 Elite Round.
The young Scots needed to defeat Ireland to get through after a disappointing defeat against Slovenia, following an opening day win over Latvia. And they simply blew the Irish away as they raced into a three-goal lead thanks to Rangers’ Ryan Hardie, Celtic’s Aidan Nesbitt and Ibrox kid Ross McCrorie, before Killie youngster Greg Kiltie wrapped it up.
Scot Gemmill’s side could and should have won by a cricket score in atrocious conditions at Markets Field. And he was full of praise for his players. He said: “We put ourselves in a situation where we needed to win and to play like that, especially in those conditions, was excellent.
“It was a good performance and the players deserve a lot of credit. Maybe there was a bit of frustration from the second game because they know they are a good team and the worst it should have been in the second game was 0-0.
“I slept soundly last night because I know the players are very determined and very professional and I think that performance showed that. I said even before the game that any praise these players gets is deserved.
“They were all superb and we made Ireland look ordinary at times. It was all about us.”
Gemmill reinstated Celtic defender Kieran Tierney into the line-up and Nottingham Forest’s exciting young winger Oliver Burke helped blow the Irish away.
Scotland couldn’t have asked for a better start after a gift of an opening goal after just 90 seconds. AFC Wimbledon defender Ryan Sweeney made a complete mess of a passback and Hardie was left one-on-one with the keeper and he produced a cool finish.
Burke was instrumental in Scotland’s second goal midway through the first half. He drove forward powerfully before slipping in Nesbitt, who struck a low finish into the net.
Scotland were clinical and wrapped the game up as early as the half-hour mark. A looping cross from the left was knocked on by Alex Iacovitti and McCrorie hooked the ball into the net from close range.
Burke was the provider again in the 67th minute when he delivered another fine cross from the right and Kiltie turned before executing a fine finish.
In truth, Scotland could easily have added plenty more goals with their quick attacking carving the hosts open every time, but they settled for four and will await next month’s draw with interest.
Ireland: Talbot; Deasy, Sweeney, McCourt, Elworthy; Poynton, Watts (Boyle 57); Shodipo, Ronan (O’Connor 66), Kelly (McClelland 46); Mulhern. Subs not used: Kelleher, Casey, Best.
Scotland: Robby McCrorie, Ross McCrorie, Breslin, Iacovitti, Tierney (Cameron 80); Sammut, Thomson; Burke (Wright 72), Nesbitt, Kiltie; Hardie. Subs not used: Devlin, Wilson, Burt.
Ref: A Munukka (Fin)