Sign up to the Irish FA Newsletter today

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from the Irish FA including ticket updates, match information, competitions, articles and much more.
Thank you

Friday 24 May 2024
Northern Ireland U18s perform well against England

Northern Ireland’s Under-18s were defeated 4-2 by England U18s in their first game in a Tri-Nations Tournament which also features Morocco.


Tri-Nations Tournament


England U18 4-2 Northern Ireland U18


England: Young, Donovan, Wheatley, Matthews

Northern Ireland: Stitt, Graham


St George’s Park


22 May 2024

Team News

Northern Ireland Under-19s boss Gareth McAuley has chosen a 22-strong U18 panel to take part in a Tri-Nations Tournament at St George’s Park, The FA’s National Training Centre in Staffordshire, this week.

International challenge matches against England and Morocco at the tournament hosted by The FA are providing an opportunity for players to stake a claim in McAuley’s U19 panel ahead of the U19 Euros in July.

How it happened

It was very much ‘a game of two halves’. Northern Ireland were lacklustre in the first half and were punished by their opponents, but they were much better after the break and arguably could have snatched a draw at least.

The Young Lions scored from their first opportunity. A fine strike by Romelle Donovan in the eighth minute stung the palms of Northern Ireland keeper Mason Munn before Kadan Young followed up to find the net.

England doubled their lead on 16 minutes when team captain Myles Lewis-Skelly ran from deep and fed Donovan, and he duly slotted the ball home.

In the 25th minute a defence-splitting pass from Harrison Murray-Campbell found Matty Henderson-Hall. He rolled the ball across the box where Ethan Wheatley tucked it past Munn.

In the closing stages of the half Munn performed plenty of heroics. He kept out a Wheatley penalty and followed that up with some fine stops as the hosts piled on the pressure.

Half-time: England U18 3-0 Northern Ireland U18

McAuley made a few changes at the interval and encouraged his players to play with more self-belief and intensity. And it worked.

Lively substitute Aodhan Doherty put in a dangerous cross on 54 minutes and Dylan Stitt (pictured in blue training top) provided a cool finish.

Shortly after that the visitors pulled another goal back. This time Stitt turned provider, teeing up Braiden Graham, and the striker found the net.

McAuley’s team continued to push forward and England keeper Elyh Harrison had to be on his toes to keep them at bay.

In the closing stages England grabbed a fourth – against the run of play. Lewis Orford swung in a corner which caused confusion in the box and Ajay Matthews' deflected effort managed to end up in the back of the net.

Afterwards McAuley said: “It was a really good exercise for us to show the players the levels they are going to have to reach (to play professionally).

“When they started to believe in themselves, and played with intensity in the second half, they were more than a match for their counterparts.”

“I was pleased with the response after half-time, how they were able to control the ball,” he further said, although the former international central defender admitted he was disappointed at how some of the goals were conceded.

Northern Ireland’s second game in the tournament is on 24 May when they will face the Moroccans at SGP (7pm).

Full-time: England U18 4-2 Northern Ireland U18

England: Elyh Harrison, Matthew Henderson-Hall, Joe Johnson, Myles Lewis-Skelly (captain), Harrison Murray-Campbell, Ayden Heaven, Romelle Donovan, Souleymane Sidibe, Ethan Wheatley, Trey Nyoni, Kadan Young.

Substitutes: Sam Proctor (GK), George Pickford (GK), Triston Rowe, Law McCabe, Amara Nallo, Somto Boniface, Ato Ampah, Lewis Orford, Matthew Warhurst, Jamaldeen Jimoh, Elijah Morrison, Ajay Matthews.

Northern Ireland: Mason Munn, Isaac Hughes, Tom Atcheson, Calum Moreland, Josh Briggs (captain), Cormac Austin, Rhys Walsh, Dylan Stitt, Braiden Graham, Francis Turley, Cole Brannigan.

Substitutes: Will Murdock (GK), Owen Grainger (GK), Callum Leacock, Blaine McClure, Sam Anderson, Jack Doherty, Casey Smyth, Aodhan Doherty, Max Wilson, Callum McCay, William Procter.