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O'Connor and Afolabi suspensions motivating Republic of Ireland Under-19s

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

04:57 23 Jul 2019

The double suspension blow for Tom Mohan's Republic of Ireland team gives them extra motivation to reach the UEFA European Under -19 Championship final.

The Irish squad are gearing up for their semi-final match against defending champions Portugal on Wednesday (3.00 pm Irish time) at the Banants Stadium in Yerevan.

Last Sunday's 2-1 win against the Czech Republic sealed their last four place but it came at a price with late and questionable bookings for two key players who now must serve a suspension for picking up two yellow cards in the tournament.

"We have an extra incentive when it comes to motivation to reach the final as the players, and staff, want to do it for both Lee O'Connor and Jonathan Afolabi (pictured), who are both suspended for our semi-final with Portugal," said Mohan.

"It is really disappointing for the two lads, who have been outstanding in every game for us, so we want to collectively do what we can so that Lee and Jonny get to play in the final.

"It is a tremendous achievement by the players to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championship and they deserve a huge amount of credit in being one of the final four teams.

"However, we are not content with that as there is a place in the final up for grabs and we will do everything that we can to take that."

Ireland facing tough test against Portugal

Unlike Ireland, the Portuguese team have made it to the semi-finals without losing a match, beating Italy (3-0) and Armenia (4-0) either side of a draw with Spain (1-1).

"We are fully aware of the threat that Portugal pose," added Mohan. "They won the tournament last year and we've seen their Elite Round qualifiers and their games in Armenia.

"There is no question that they are one of the strongest teams in this year's tournament and we will have to produce another massive performance to match them, but this group of players are not fazed by anyone and we have a lot of strengths too."

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (St Patrick's Athletic), George McMahon (Burnley)

Defenders: Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Jack James (Unattached), Kameron Ledwidge (Southampton), Ciaran Brennan (Sheffield Wednesday)

Midfielders: Joe Hodge (Manchester City), Lee O'Connor (Manchester United), Barry Coffey (Celtic), Niall Morahan (Sligo Rovers), Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers), Conor Grant (Sheffield Wednesday)

Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Unattached), Ali Reghba (Leicester City), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa), Matt Everitt (Brighton & Hove Albion), Festy Ebosele (Derby County)

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Republic Of Ireland Tom Mohan UEFA European Under-19 Championship

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