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Single Scotland strike seals Centenary Shield success

Scotland 1

Banner 11

Ireland 0

  • Thursday, 06 April 2017
  • Renfrew Juniors
  • Under 18´s
  • Centenary Shield

Simon Ritchie | YFS West Region Reporter
Articles by Author | Contact Author

Captain Kyle Banner gave Scotland victory over Ireland in the Centenary Shield, powering home a header from Calvin McGrory’s corner. In a scrappy match at Renfrew Juniors, it was the only shot on target for over an hour of play as both teams struggled to make their final ball count. Only in the final 20 minutes were the keepers brought into the action, but despite some late pressure, Ireland couldn’t find an equaliser.

The goal was the first meaningful action of the game, apart from a couple of set plays for Ireland around the Scotland box which came to nothing. McGrory’s corner was whipped into the box and from virtually the penalty spot Banner made a great connection to find the back of the net and leave the keeper helpless.

Chances were few and far between with possession given away far too cheaply and the killer ball always lacking. Ireland looked dangerous down the left hand side though with the skilful Ronan Manning making things happen. His through ball released Conor Layng who sped into the Scotland box and looked set to burst the net but he went down under a light touch in the back from Banner, with the referee unconvinced it was enough to deserve a penalty.

Despite the game being played at a fast pace with some tenacious tackles going around, there was a distinct lack of quality in the final third and both keepers managed to avoid saving a shot in the half. The visitors certainly seemed to have the better of the play up to a point but without the composure and patience needed to make it count. Scotland goalkeeper Ronan Fallens was replaced at half-time having had little to do.

  • Half Time:
  • Scotland
  • 1-0
  • Ireland

This continued into the second half, misplaced passes and over-hit crosses proving a massive stumbling block in getting the strikers involved in the match.

A flurry of activity on the hour mark led to the closest Ireland had come to troubling the Scotland goal, Layng heading on a long ball to Sean McDonald whose turn and volley went over the bar. The home side reacted with an effort of their own, Matthew Reilly also firing over from a short free-kick.

But the game was finally heating up and with time running out Ireland knew they had to push forward in search of an equaliser. Substitute Scotland keeper Ross Connelly was brought into action to pull off a fine double save from Ireland defender Darryl Walsh, parrying his first header back to the full-back before turning his second attempt over the bar.

While Ireland upped their game at the other end, Scotland had Adam Brown to thank for relieving the pressure time and time again. Constantly pressing and harrying the Ireland backline, he was proving a handful for the Irish defenders to deal with and won the ball more often than not, allowing some respite from Ireland attacks and creating chances for his teammates to get forward.

It was the combination of Cieran Dunne and Reilly however that opened up Ireland for Scotland’s best two chances to seal the win. First some magnificent skill by Dunne on the right touchline, turning his marker inside out, allowed him to cut back to Reilly in the centre of the penalty box but he didn’t catch his effort at all. Then Reilly chased down Jamie Bell in the Ireland goal, winning the ball and playing in Dunne, but Bell was alive to the danger and recovered well to make the save.

Then, in the final five minutes of the game, Ireland were handed the perfect opportunity to level the scores. A moment of madness from Connelly saw him pick up a backpass in his own box, gifting Ireland an indirect free kick. With everyone back in the box for the Scots, the ball was rolled to Walsh who struck it powerfully towards the top of the net, only for Scotland striker Brown to get his head on it and deflect it over the bar. With only a few minutes to go the importance of the block couldn’t be understated and Scotland briefly celebrated as though they’d scored.

And well they might have, for it proved enough to give them the win.

  • Full Time:
  • Scotland
  • 1-0
  • Ireland


1. Ronan Fallens
2. George Stanger
3. John Kelly
4. Luc Bollan
5. Kyle Banner
6. Calvin McGrory
7. Euan O'Reilly
8. Cameron Ballantyne
9. Adam Brown
10. Jamie Chapman
11. Matthew Reilly
12. Ross Connelly
13. Nathan Brown
14. Robbie Bruce
15. Cieran Dunne
16. Adam Kirkwood
17. Kieran Sweeney
1. Paul Martin
2. James Carroll
3. Darryl Walsh
4. Evan Murphy
5. Shane Blayney
6. Alec Byrne
7. John Mahon
8. John Martin
9. Ronan Manning
10. Neill Byrne
11. Neil Farrugia
12. Sean McDonald
13. Tunmise Sobowale
14. Connor Gormley
15. Conor Layng
16. Jamie Bell
17. Vinny Quinlan
18. Steven Nolan
Star Player
Nuisance. Pest. There are many words to describe Adam Brown's style of play but the importance of it to Scotland's victory was massive. He chased and pressed and harried and annoyed, keeping Ireland's defenders on their toes and not giving them the time to start attacks from the back. His goalsaving clearance at the end was the icing on the cake.
Connor Gormley was forced to drop into defence following an injury to Evan Murphy in the first half but he looked just as comfortable their as he did in midfield.
Magic Moment
The goal lit up an otherwise bland first half, and it was a truly fantastic header from Kyle Banner. Catching it perfectly it left the Ireland goalie without a hope.
Darryl Walsh must have thought he'd equalised when Ronan Manning's header found him open in the box but despite two good headers he just couldn't quite find a way past Ross Connelly. It just wasn't to be Ireland's day.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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