Two first half goals from Georgie Poynton and Darragh Gibbons proved enough to give the Irish Colleges and Universities their first ever win over the French Universities in an international friendly at City Calling Stadium Longford on Tuesday afternoon (June 12).
Longford Town duo Shane Elworthy (who was included in the starting XI) and Jamie Hollywood (introduced as a 2nd half sub) played significant roles in the win.
Dundalk's Poynton fired the home side in front on 35-minutes with a firmly struck 30-yard free kick that hit the top corner of the French net with the helpless goalkeeper Alexandre Lefebre rooted to his goal line.
Two minutes later the Irish had doubled the lead and it was defender Darragh Gibbons who had replaced the injured Conor Kane just over ten minutes earlier who touched home a Poynton free kick at the near post.
The goals brightened up a first half that was a nigglly affair riddled with numerous fouls and referee Declan Toland was a busy man dishing out three yellow cards to the feisty French.
The visitors made ten changes at the break with skipper Mathieu Blasco the only player to remain on and for a while they did threaten to claw back the deficit.
Ryan Ebene Talla should have got a touch on a well delivered Blasco free but he allowed the ball to go past him and out over the back line.
The Irish might have increased their advantage and Poynton set up Shane Elworthy but he was unlucky to slice a volley just past the post.
Ireland had a number of chances to seal the win with Anthony McAlavey cracking the crossbar, Conor Keeley saw his header well saved by substitute 'keeper Bastien Rempp and Carlton Ubaezuonu missed the target with another headed chance.
The French managed a late consolation when Tanguy Guerineau availed of an slip by substitute goalkeeper Cathal O'Hanlon to tap the ball home.
It is a well-deserved first time win over the French side, ranked second in the world at this level for Greg Yelverton's charges after three previous meeting had failed to see the Irish come out on top.
Speaking after the game, coach Yelverton said, "I am delighted for the boys, they have really taken on board the style of play we want to produce on the pitch. You always want to play against the best teams. France at times showed they were a bit more experienced than our lads. We've one eye on the 2019 World University Games but today it was just a matter of getting a win against France on Irish soil and show that our lads are just as good as the best teams."
Ireland: Matthew Connor (Cathal O'Hanlon 68); Shane Elworthy, Conor Keeley, Liam Scales, Conor Kane (Darragh Gibbons 24) (Pierce Phillips 63); Jonny Bonner (Jamie Hollywood 68); Dáire O'Connor (Carlton Ubaezuonu 64), Georgie Poynton, Anthony McAlavey, Shane Daly Butz (Adrian Delap 82); Georgie Kelly (Jack O'Keeffe 64).
France: Anthony Lefebre (Bastien Rempp 46); Gabriel Melis (José Machado 46), Jacques-Antoine Pelletier (Alex Marchadier 46), Roméo Vendiambu (Ryan Ebene Talla 46), Clément Bassin (Clement Tourtelot 46); Mick Dash Hatime (Tanguy Guerineau 46), Tidiane Keita (Léo Servanton 46), Brian Feneuil (G Guerineau 46), Mathieu Blasco; Sami Ayachi (Florian Chavanon 46), Kevin Cardinali (Vincent Roux 46).
Referee: Declan Toland.
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