Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# Forward momentum
Ireland U21 striker continues good form with late winner to maintain Portsmouth's 100% start
Ronan Curtis has made a big impact since his move from Derry City.

IRISH ATTACKER RONAN Curtis continues to endear himself to the fans of his new club after netting an 87th-minute winner last night.

Curtis, who joined Portsmouth from Derry City this summer, was the hero for Pompey as they recorded a 2-1 victory away to Bristol Rovers.

Ronan Curtis with Mahir Madatov Oisin Keniry / INPHO Ronan Curtis playing for the Ireland U21s against Azerbaijan in March. Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

It was a fourth win in as many League One games in the new campaign for Kenny Jackett’s side, who narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs last season. Alongside Peterborough United, they’re the early pace-setters in England’s third tier for 2018-19.

Curtis — who has been operating on the left side of a front three — has made quite an impact since his arrival at the club. Last night’s goal was his third already this season, while he has also chipped in with three assists.

The Ireland U21 international’s latest strike saw him make amends after he was penalised earlier in the game for a handball in his own box, which allowed Bristol Rovers to equalise.

“I jumped up to head it away and the ball’s just come off my hand, but it was a great way to respond to that,” Curtis told Portsmouth’s official website. “After the goal I didn’t really care about the penalty. It didn’t matter who scored the winner, but I’m just lucky it fell for me.

“I was scared that the defender was going to get back and clear the ball away, but it just about went over the line. My head went then and I lost the plot a bit as I went over to celebrate with our fans. It was outstanding.

“If somebody had told me what I’d do after a few games here, I wouldn’t really have believed them. But I said when I first signed that I was here to score goals and provide assists — and that’s what I’m doing.”

The form of Curtis is certainly encouraging from an Irish perspective. Senior international manager Martin O’Neill — who’ll name his squad on Monday for next month’s games against Wales and Poland — is sure to be keeping tabs on his progress, particularly with injuries ruling out Sean Maguire and Scott Hogan.

However, U21 boss Noel King will be keen to keep Curtis involved with his squad for their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Kosovo and Germany.

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King’s youngsters will be in Kosovo on 7 September (the day after the senior team’s Uefa Nations League opener in Cardiff), before hosting Germany in Tallaght four days later (on the same night that O’Neill’s side play a friendly in Poland).

After six games — which Curtis has played every minute of — the Ireland U21s are in second place in their qualifying group, three points behind the Germans but with a game in hand.

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