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Ireland U21s secure Euro play-off but boss Crawford insists 'job is far from over'

Sweden’s draw with Italy means the Young Boys in Green can still qualify for the European U21 Championships automatically by winning in Ascoli on Tuesday.

Ireland duo Will Smallbone (left) and Eiran Cashin.
Ireland duo Will Smallbone (left) and Eiran Cashin.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

IRELAND’S U-21s HAVE secured their first ever play-off place in a European U-21 Championship qualification campaign, but boss Jim Crawford insisted the job is far from done.

The Young Boys in Green can still win the group and earn a place at next summer’s should they beat Italy in Ascoli on Tuesday.

Ireland are guaranteed a second-place finish in Group F after Sweden and Italy drew their game 1-1 in Helsingborg this evening.

“First and foremost I would like to thank the hard work and effort of my players and staff. The objective at the start of the campaign was to create history and that is now very much in our hands,” Crawford said.

“While I’m pleased to have a play-off spot secured, the job is far from over. We head to Italy with a chance to automatically qualify and that’s our focus. Italy are an excellent team and have shown that all campaign. They have our respect but I have great belief in our lads to go to Ascoli and get a result.”

Ireland’s four-wins in a row, in which they scored nine goals and conceded just once, propelled them into qualification contention and Monday’s 3-1 victory over Montenegro in Tallaght saw them equal the record amount of points (19) for an Irish U21s side in a qualification campaign.

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The win over the Montenegrins in Tallaght Stadium was also the first time an U21s side had won four competitive games in a row and they travel to Italy looking to claim top spot and automatically qualify.

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