"A fantastic strike from a fantastic player" | Tom Mohan praises Joe Hodge

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A beautifully struck goal by debutant Joe Hodge helped the Republic of Ireland under-19s salvage a point in their opening Group B match against Norway at the UEFA European Championship.

Some poor defending by the young Boys in Green allowed opposing striker Erik Botheim in for the opener from close range after just 9 minutes in Yerevan.

Ireland struggled at times against a very big and physical Norwegian side in temperatures touching the mid-thirties in the Armenian capital where UEFA permitted one water break per half.

Ali Reghba proved to be a huge attacking threat for Tom Mohan's team and it was one of his pacy and powerful runs down the right-hand side that led to the equaliser.

A poor clearance from Norway's Man City defender Colin Rosler, son of City legend Uwe, was hit first time from 20 yards by Hodge to seal a 1-1 draw.

"After ten minutes we'd have settled for a point," Mohan said after the game.

"Because Norway, they pushed us right back and they overloaded areas, they hit big [diagonal passes] and they took advantage of some of our smaller players with their physicality.

"Their press was very strong and we found it difficult to play out against their press."

Mohan praised his players for not giving up in very testing conditions.

"Once we got the water break and the boys settled down a wee bit, there was a bit of frustration in there too you know but they showed good character.

"The boys got on the ball in the second half and they kept moving it and we felt like once we keep moving them, openings would happen.

"Thankfully Joe came up with the goods, it was a fantastic strike from a fantastic player. Seventeen years of age, you can't ask much more."

Mohan praised the Scandanavian side for the tough challenge they posed his side but also felt that Ireland spurned some good goal-scoring chances either side of half-time.

"We felt with our possession, we felt we had the firepower up front," Mohan added. "In the first half too, we had some very good chances and it was just a wee bit more composure and quality in the final third of the pitch.

"We could have got a couple before half-time as well but I believed in the players and they believed in themselves and we showed [really] good quality on the ball too and we had to be patient.

"We knew we had to be patient because Norway, we have to give them great credit, they have very good players and they were very difficult opponents.

"And great credit to our boys. They kept going and kept going but got the rewards through good quality play also."

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Joe Hodge Tom Mohan UEFA Under-19 European Championship

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