Eoin eyes EURO glory

Eoin Wearen is going for glory after helping Republic of Ireland qualify for the UEFA European U19 Championship finals.

The West Ham United midfielder helped the Irish upset the formbook to qualify from an Elite Round group that also included hosts Poland, Italy and Ukraine.

Ireland kicked-off with a 1-0 win over Poland and despite Wearen himself being sent-off in the second group-stage fixture against Ukraine - a goalless draw - Paul Doolin's side secured their progress by defeating Italy 3-0 in their final match.

Having topped their group, Wearen and his compatriots will travel to Romania for the eight-nation finals between 20 July and 1 August. Belgium, Greece, Czech Republic and Serbia have also qualified, while Spain, England and Germany have yet to contest their Elite Round groups.

"The celebrations were unbelievable!" said the 18-year-old. "Nobody expected us to get through the group, but we believed we would qualify. We have a good team spirit and some really good players, so now we'll just how far we can go.

"We've only lost one of our last 12 matches and only conceded one goal in our previous six games. We'll obviously take it one game at a time, but we definitely think we can finish in the top two in our group in Romania and at least get through to the semi-finals.

"For now, though, we're going to enjoy having qualified. We couldn't really celebrate that much out in Poland because our hotel was in the middle of nowhere, but a few of the lads are going to meet in Dublin on Wednesday evening!"

Ireland's qualification marks the first time the country's Under-19s have reached the final stages of the continental competition since 2002 and gives them a chance to emulate the success achieved by Robbie Keane and his team-mates in 1998.

"We have got some very good players," said Wearen. "We have Johnny Egan who plays for Sunderland and Connor Murphy, who was at Middlesbrough but now plays back in Ireland for Bray Wanderers."

For Wearen himself, the finals will give him the chance to bury the memory of being shown a red card against Ukraine.

"I served my suspension against Italy in our final group game, so I'm free to play in the finals. I got booked twice in the final ten minutes against Ukraine - the first one was not even a foul, but the second one, I had to do it because our winger had lost the ball and they would have had a three-on-two break if I hadn't fouled their player. I suppose I took one for the team.

"We thought we needed a draw against Ukraine because we thought we could beat Italy in our final game. We managed to score from a set-piece and then a couple of really well-worked goal and Italy had a couple of lads sent-off late on, so we knew we'd go through.

"Myself and one of the other lads, Anthony O'Connor, were both suspended for the final game so we had to watch from up in the stand, but we managed to sneak down to the dugout by the end and join in the celebrations on the pitch after the final whistle.

"Hopefully, we'll have more reasons to celebrate when we go to Romania."