KLUB Kildare midfielder, Leo Healy, earned his first international cap when he came on as a 55th minute substitute for the Republic of Ireland U16s in the National Stadium Ta’ Qali in Malta on Tuesday morning. The Naas youngster was introduced as Paul Osam’s side got their international season off to the perfect start with a 3-0 win over Malta.
Healy’s cap comes hot on the heels of a similar honour for his club mate, Ruadhan Kane, with the Irish U17 earlier this month
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Cian Morling, Derry City’s Trent Kone Doherty and Bohemians’ Nickson Okosun earned the Boys in Green the win in what was the first of two friendlies between the countries this week.
Osam gave St. Patrick’s Athletic’s Sean Mackey the honour of captaining the team on his international debut and it was his clubmate Brian Moore who almost gave Ireland the perfect start.
In the 10th minute, the striker found a way past Malta goalkeeper Niklas Velia but the assistant referee judged the St. Pat’s forward to be offside.
Velia would be a thorn in the Irish side with the Maltese stopper thwarting attempts from Aidan Cannon. Kone Doherty and Moore in a dominant first half for Ireland.
Jason Healy was called-into action in the 22nd minute when he forced to dive at the feet of the advancing Malta attacker as the homeside threatened.
The best chance of the first half fell to Ireland in the 32nd minute when Ireland counter attacked from a Malta corner. Moore won the ball on the halfway line and played in Galway United’s Adam O’Halloran to advance on goal. His attempt was denied by the feet of Velia who made sure the sides went in at half-time all square.
Osam made two changes at the break, swapping Moore for Okosun and Cannon for Morling and those subsitutes would pay off.
Seconds after entering the field of play, Morling beat two players on the corner of the box and found the bottom corner with a finessed finish to mark his Ireland debut in style.
In the 52nd minute, it would get better for Ireland. Kone Doherty scored directly from a 20-yard-free-kick that beat the wall and found the far corner as Ireland got their two goal cushion.
Healy, Michael Golding, Orlandas Jakas, Patryk Swieczka and Naz Raji were all introduced in the second half as they got their first taste of international football.
Okosun made it 3-0 in the final minute when he tapped in at the back post after Kone Doherty’s shot was parried by the goalkeeper into his path.
Osam’s team face Malta again on Thursday morning in the final game of the double header.
Malta: Velia (GK); Micallef, Carabott, Briffa, Scicluna, Farrugia; Agius, Cassar;, Ohaka Azzopardi (C), Zammit
Substitutes: Frendo (GK), Debono, Okeke, Previ, Delicata, Mattocks, Zammit, Bugeja, Hudson
Republic of Ireland: Jason Healy (GK); Mackey, O’Sullivan (Raji, 68), Sheeran (Golding, 55), Hayden; Turley (Leo Healy, 55), Dodd (Swieczka, 68), O’Halloran (Jakas, 55); Kone Doherty, Cannon (Morling, 41), Moore (Okosun, 41)
Republic of Ireland Men’s Under-16 Squad
Goalkeeper: Jason Healy (Waterford), Ryan Maher (Bohemians)
Defenders: Sean Hayden (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Orlandas Jakas (Shamrock Rovers), Sean Mackey (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Corey O’Sullivan (Shamrock Rovers), Eoin Sheeran (Athlone Town), Patryk Sweicka (Cork City)
Midfielders Anthony Dodd (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Michael Golding (Chelsea), Leo Healy (Klub Kildare), Luke Kehir (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Adam O’Halloran (Galway United), Naz Raji (Shamrock Rovers), Freddie Turley (Shamrock Rovers)
Forwards: Aidan Cannon (Celtic), Trent Kone Doherty (Derry City), Brian Moore (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Cian Morling (Brighton and Hove Albion), Nickson Okosun (Bohemians)
International friendly fixture – (all times are Irish time)
Thursday, September 23 | Malta MU16 v Republic of Ireland MU16, National Stadium, Ta’ Qali, Malta, KO 9am
Kildare’s Healy Earns First International Cap
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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