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Saturday 23 Mar 2024
U17s produce spirited performance against France

Northern Ireland’s Under-17s fell to defeat to France in the second game of their UEFA U17 Euro 2024 Elite Round Qualifiers.

Dylan Stitt had fired Northern Ireland in front with just over a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock but France hit back with three goals either side of the break.

Braiden Graham did reduce the deficit early in the second half only for France to bag another couple in the latter stages to kill the game off.


UEFA U17 Euro 2024 Elite Round Qualifiers


Northern Ireland U17 2-5 France U17


Northern Ireland: Dylan Stitt (16'), Braiden Graham (54')

France: Mohamed Kader Meite (32' & 49'), Enzo Sternal (45+1'), Yanis Sellami (70'), Pape Cabral (88')


St George’s Park, Staffordshire


23 March 2024

Team News

Coaches Andy Waterworth and Kris Lindsay made five changes to the starting XI from the England game on Wednesday, bringing in Owen Grainger, Alex Watson, Matthew Orr, Troy Savage and Cole Brannigan. Blaine McClure retained the captaincy.

How it happened

A quiet start to the game saw the sides trade half chances before, with just over a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock, Northern Ireland moved in front when Dylan Stitt found the net after Alex Watson had sent the ball over from a corner.

The French tried to carve out a quickfire response with Yael Thebault having an attempt on goal only to be denied by Northern Ireland keeper Owen Grainger while, a little later, Ayyoub Bouaddi failed to find the target.

France did level on 32 minutes, however, when Mohamed Kader Meite knocked the ball home with Bouaddi threatening again almost from the restart.

Then, in first half stoppage time, France edged in front for the first time after Enzo Sternal rounded off Oumar Camara's corner.

Half-time: Northern Ireland U17 1-2 France U17

Buoyed by this, France began the second half on the front foot and extended their lead just four minutes in with Meite's second of the evening.

But the game wasn't over by any stretch, and so it proved on 54 minutes when Braiden Graham reduced the deficit to bring Northern Ireland right back into it.

Unfortunately France restored their two-goal advantage on 70 minutes through Yanis Sellami - and it got even worse for Northern Ireland 10 minutes after that when Alfie Friars' dismissal saw Andrew Waterworth's side reduced to 10 men as the game ticked over in the closing stages.

And France duly went on to make their extra man count when Pape Cabral completed the scoring with a couple of minutes remaining.

After the game Andrew Waterworth paid a glowing tribute to his players and their efforts: "I am pleased I and proud of the team tonight. Our performance was first rate," he said.

"We have matched France for quality for most parts of this game. Naturally - when we had a man sent off which ended our competitiveness in the game.

"On the few occasions that we dropped quality we were punished and that is exactly what these nations do to you which is exactly why it’s important we keep getting our teams to the elite rounds.

"We played front foot football and pressed aggressively which caught France by surprise and our goals were of real quality.

"And, the ones we conceded are ones that we can take so much learning from and it will be absolutely crucial learnnng for each of those players moving forward."

Northern Ireland are set to complete the mini tournament against Hungary at St George's Park on Tuesday (26 March; 7pm start). Hungary lost their opening game to France before conceding five goals without reply to England this afternoon.

Full-time: Northern Ireland U17 2-5 France U17


Northern Ireland U17: Owen Grainger, Alex Watson, Alfie Friars, Callum Leacock, Matthew Orr, Dylan Stitt, Blaine McClure (capt.), Troy Savage, Senan Devine, Braiden Graham, Cole Brannigan.

Substitutes: (used) Ceadach O'Neill, Jack Doherty, Ryan Corrigan, Keevan Hawthorne, Callum Burnside; (unused) Will Murdock, Conor Haughey, James Simpson, Oscar Kelly.

France U17: Jules Stawiecki, Iliesse Salhi, Mathys Angely, Kouakou Gadou (capt.), Yael Thebault, Ayyoub Bouaddi, Enzo Sternal, Pape Cabral, Oumar Camara, Mohamed Kader Meite, Kylian Kouakou.

Substitutes: (used) Felix Bienck, Rayane Messi, Yanis Sellami, Ibrahim Yayiya Kante, Mustapha Sissoko; (unused) Ayoube Akabou, Idriss Planeix, Mathys Detourbet, Darryl Bakola.