Kearns on target

Danny Kearns was a happy man after scoring on his first start for the Republic of Ireland.

West Ham United's Belfast-born winger switched his international allegiance from Northern Ireland earlier this year, making his debut for the Under-19s in their 4-2 friendly win over Poland in Dublin on Tuesday.

On Thursday evening, the 18-year-old was handed a start at Tolka Park by manager Sean McCaffrey, and responded by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over the Poles. Kearns, who had earlier set up a great chance for Sunderland's Conor Hourihane, netted after 58 minutes after turning his marker and shooting low past the goalkeeper.

The Irish used the double-header as preparation for their upcoming UEFA European U19 Championship Elite Round qualifiers in late May. Kearns and his team-mates have been drawn to face Frank Nouble's England, Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina, with all matches to be played in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

The first-year professional believes the back-to-back successes against Poland will stand them in good stead ahead of a testing qualification campaign.

"Obviously it was brilliant for me to score on my first start," he told "These games have been great preparation for the elite qualifying stage. We have a very tough group so it will be good to go into the qualifiers on the back of two good performances."

Kearns will return to Chadwell Heath this weekend, and will hope to be involved in next Tuesday's Barclays Premier Reserve League South fixture at Wolverhampton Wanderers.