Ireland’s U-21 boys were denied the Junior Celtic Cup in dramatic fashion as an experienced Scotland side following a 4-4 draw at Coolnafranky. The Irish led three times in the game but found themselves chasing the game in the final stages as Kenny Bain popped up to score his side’s crucial fourth goal.
Stuart Loughrey equalised to set up an exciting final few minutes but Scotland held on to take the title on goal difference following big wins over France and Wales.
Ireland added a 2-0 win over France on Saturday to their 6-0 success on Friday to be in with a shot of glory today. Davy Carson netted in the first half before Ali Smyth rounded out that win but it left Ireland two goals behind the Scots going into the final day’s play.
Again, Carson got the only goal of the first half before Gordon McIntyre levelled for the first time from a corner rebound in the second period. Cookstown’s Mark Crooks restored the lead only for McIntyre to level.
Corinthian sharp-shooter Brian Doherty whipped in his fifth corner of the weekend for 3-2. Josh Cairns cancelled that out with a corner of his own and Bain nicked the fourth with five minutes to go, again combining with senior international team mate McIntyre.
Loughrey’s effort set up the grandstand finish but Scotland held out to retain the title.
France, meanwhile, claimed the women’s Junior Celtic Cup, notching three wins from three as Ireland’s U-21s – shorn of a couple of senior international stars – ended the tournament in third.
The French had too much firepower on Saturday afternoon, Louise Poulenc’s goal 18 seconds before the break a major psychological blow.
Anna O’Flanagan’s goal had Ireland in contention prior to that as the game was poised at 1-1. But with their tails up in the second half, Apolline Rougeau and Alix Perroucheau ran up a 4-1 win.
Ireland fell 2-0 in their final game this afternoon to second placed Scotland.
The U-18 girls impressed over the weekend with back-to-back wins over Scotland at Jordanstown as they recorded a 3-1 win on Saturday afternoon with goals from Nicola Gray, Leah Ewart and Katie Codyre while Sunday brought a 3-2 win. This time, Gray and Ewart were joined on the score-sheet by Aisling Naughton.
The Irish U-16 girls, meanwhile, produced a storming pair of results to build their confidence ahead of the European Championships as they notched 12 goals in two games against Wales.
Braces from Chloe Brown and Railway’s Kate Lloyd helped the girls in green to a 6-0 win on Saturday evening with Katie Mullan and Antonia McGrath on target.
Mullan added a triple on Sunday afternoon with Elaine Carey, Roisin Upton and Gemma Frazer all weighing in for a 6-1 success.
International results: Men's Junior (U21) Celtic Cup, Coolnafranky Saturday: Ireland 2 (A Smith, D Carson) France 0 Sunday: Ireland 4 (B Doherty, M Crooks, D Carson, S Loughrey) Scotland 4 (G McIntrye 2, J Cairns, K Bain) Standings: 1. Scotland 7pts (+10) 2. Ireland 7pts (+8) 3. France 3pts (-4) 4. Wales 0pts (-15)
Women's Junior(U21) Celtic Cup, Coolnafranky Saturday: Ireland 1 (A O’Flanagan) France 4 Sunday: Ireland 0 Scotland 2 Standings: 1. France 9pts (+11) 2. Scotland 6pts (+5) 3. Ireland 3pts (-2) 4. Wales 0pts (-14)
Ireland U18 girls 3 (L Ewart, K Codyre, N Gray) Scotland 1
Ireland U18 girls 3 (L Ewart, N Gray, A Naughton) Scotland 2
Ireland U16 girls 6 (C Brown 2, K Lloyd 2, K Mullan, A McGrath) Wales U16 0
Ireland U16 girls 6 (K Mullan 3, E Carey, G Frazer, R Upton) Wales U16 1
* For more of Emer Keogh's pictures from Ireland U-21 men vs France, click here. Adrian Boehm's photos from Ireland U-21 men vs Scotland can be seen here.