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Aston Villa teenager delighted with first Ireland U21 goal

Tyreik Wright was on target in the impressive win over Bosnia.

Ireland's Tyreik Wright celebrates after scoring.
Ireland's Tyreik Wright celebrates after scoring.
Image: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

WHILE IT WAS a day to forget for the Irish senior side on Saturday, the U21s produced a positive performance on Friday away to Bosnia as they opened their Euros qualification campaign with a 2-0 win.

It was an especially memorable afternoon for 19-year-old Cork-born player Tyreik Wright.

The Aston Villa forward — currently on loan with League Two side Salford — scored his first goal for Ireland U21s amid an impressive victory.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with my first goal for the 21s,” he said afterwards. “It’s just helping the team towards the three points and the lads were excellent. So I was happy to contribute to the win.”

Wright also scored his first Salford goal in their 3-0 win over Newport last Saturday, and his display in Bosnia was further evidence of the teen’s potential.

“It’s not been a bad few days. Something I’ve been looking to add to my game are goals and assists this season. They keep on coming at the moment so hopefully, it doesn’t stop.

“I could have had a second today, I was disappointed with that.” 

Ireland next face Luxembourg away on Tuesday as they bid to qualify from a difficult group that also includes Italy, Sweden and Montenegro.

“[It's important to] keep doing what we’re doing, believe in the process and the gameplan. We’ll be looking forward to Tuesday and hopefully, get another three points.

Wright also reserved praise for the two Irish debutants on the day — Crystal Palace’s Jake O’Brien and Brighton’s Evan Ferguson.

“I knew Jake growing up, we played football and hurling together in Cork. I’ve known him a long time and to see him on the pitch was a good thing to see.

“And obviously Evan’s 16, it’s a massive honour for him to be here and he’s done great since he’s come in, so it’s great to see everyone making their debuts.”

O’Brien, who has captained Palace’s U23 team since joining from Cork City earlier this year, was pleased to make a solid start to his Ireland U21 career.

“I loved it. Tough circumstances on a poor enough pitch but we’ll look towards Tuesday against Luxembourg.

“We put it up to them today physically and the least we deserved was to keep a clean sheet. 

“It’s been a mad year, but I’ve been enjoying it and taking it step by step.”

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Of his long-time links with Wright, he added: “There were definitely moments looking at each other, it brings back memories of playing with each other since the age of 10, it’s mad yeah.”

It was also a day to remember for skipper Conor Coventry, as the midfielder scored his first goal in 42 appearances for Ireland at underage level.

“I’ve been playing for Ireland since I was 15 and as long as someone scored, it didn’t really matter. To actually score, the feeling was amazing.

“More recently, I’ve chipped in with a few more goals [at club level] than I would have when I was younger, so I’ve been working on it. It wasn’t the best finish but it goes in and anyway I can help the team, I will.” 

Of the important victory, the West Ham youngster, who is currently at Championship side Peterborough, said: “I played in the last campaign. I know how hard it is to win any game and to come to a place like this, the pitch isn’t great, there are no fans and you’re obviously against a tough side. To get a win is top drawer, I’m so proud to be part of this group. Some of the performances were incredible.”

Manager Jim Crawford, meanwhile, was similarly effusive in his praise.

“It was a great performance and something to build on. Can we get better? Of course, we can and we will because they are a great group of players that are open to developing themselves and helping the 21s have a really successful campaign.”

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