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Friday 21 Jun 2024
U19 Euros – how it panned out in 2005

Northern Ireland is hosting the UEFA Men’s European Under-19 Championship this summer, with games taking place in Belfast and Larne.

But it will not be the first time the Irish Football Association has undertaken the task of staging the U19 Euros in conjunction with European football’s governing body.

Back in 2005 the tournament also came to these shores.

Just like this year, seven teams qualified to reach the finals and Northern Ireland qualified as hosts.

Northern Ireland were drawn in Group A alongside Serbia and Montenegro, Germany and Greece, while Group B consisted of France, England, Norway and Armenia.

Perhaps surprisingly, given that European powerhouses Germany and England were in town in 2005, only France, Norway and Northern Ireland (as hosts) from that list of teams are in the final shake-up for this year’s tournament, where they will be joined by holders Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Denmark and Turkiye.

Nineteen years ago the U19s were managed by legendary Northern Ireland defender Mal Donaghy, while this year another legendary Northern Ireland defender, Gareth McAuley, is in the hotseat.

In July 2005 a first half goal from Antonis Petropoulos helped Greece to a narrow victory against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in the first round of Group A matches.

Serbia and Montenegro, who are of course two separate countries these days, defeated Germany 4-2 in their opening game thanks to two goals from Borko Veselinovic and one apiece from Nebojsa Marinkovic and Marko Markovski. Germany’s goals at The Showgrounds in Newry came from Eugen Polanski and Mustafa Kucukovic.

The Serbo-Montengrins had quite a tussle in their next game – against Northern Ireland in Newry.

Both teams created chances at The Showgrounds - Northern Ireland captain Kieran McKenna grazed the top of the bar with a thunderbolt - before Borko Veselinovic popped up with the only goal of the game in the 78th minute.

Also on matchday two in Group A the Germans ran out 3-0 winners against Greece at Mourneview Park in Lurgan, the goals coming from Florian Muller, Polanski and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

To have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals stage Northern Ireland had to defeat the Germans in their final group game and rely on the Serbs to defeat Greece.

In the end the Serbo-Montenegrins defeated the Greeks 3-0, with Veselinovic scoring twice to bring his tally for the tournament to five. Nemanja Arsenijevic got their other goal at The Showgrounds in Ballymena.

However, Northern Ireland could not get past the Germans at The Oval in Belfast despite a gritty performance. Germany won the game 2-1.

All three goals were scored late on. Markus Steinhofer opened the scoring for the Germans in the 85th minute and they extended their lead four minutes later through Denis Epstein. Northern Ireland’s goal was netted by Thomas Stewart a minute into added time.

The results meant Serbia and Montenegro topped the group with three wins out of three, while Germany finished second on six points and Greece third with three points.

France won Group B after drawing with England 1-1 in their first game (the scorers were Ablai Balde and Matt Fryatt), defeating Norway 3-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Yoann Gourcuff and registering a 1-0 win over Armenia courtesy of a Cedric Cambon strike.

England finished second in the group on five points. They drew 1-1 with Armenia (Armenia scored both goals!) before edging past Norway in their final game. Matt Mills, Dexter Blackstock and David Wheater helped them to a 3-2 win.

Matt Fryatt was the star of the show when England met Serbia and Montenegro in the last four at Mourneview Park. He bagged a hat-trick in a 3-1 victory, with Marinkovic grabbing the consolation.

Ballymena Showgrounds hosted an epic encounter between France and Germany in the other semi-final.

France struck first through Balde on 34 minutes before Epstein equalised four minutes later. On 58 minutes Balde edged the French ahead once again and five minutes later Yohan Cabaye grabbed their third. The Germans then pulled one back through Boateng and almost snatched an equaliser, however the game ended 3-2 in France’s favour.

In the final, which was played at Windsor Park, France proved too strong for England and ran out 3-1 winners.

England midfielder Lee Holmes scored the first goal of the game just before the interval, however the French took control in the second half. Mohamed Chakouri equalised on 56 minutes before Balde pounced in the 75th minute. Yoan Gouffran made sure of the win for the French when he netted on 88 minutes.

Several players who appeared at the U19 Euros in 2005 went on to star at senior level for club and country.

They included the likes of France’s Gourcuff, Gouffran and Cabaye, as well as Hugo Lloris and Moussa Sow (Senegal), Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana) and Polanski (Poland), Armenian Edgar Manucharyan, Greece’s Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Georgios Tzavellas, Norwegians Tore Reginiussen and Alexander Tettey plus England’s James Morrison, who went on to earn 46 caps for Scotland!

It is also hoped that several stars of the future will be playing at the U19 Euros in Northern Ireland this summer.

To buy tickets to U19 Euro 2024 matches go to for further information.

Main image: Northern Ireland U19s captain Kieran McKenna tussles for possession in the game against France.