Republic of Ireland's U19 side are heading back home as their journey in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship is over. In the 18th edition of the tournament, which is held in Yerevan, Republic of Ireland reached the semi-finals where they played with Portugal at Banants stadium.
Defending champions Portugal qualified for the semi-finals from the Group A, where they beat Italy (3-0), Armenia (4-0) and held a draw with Spain(1-1).
Tom Mohan's side, meanwhile, reached the semi-finals from the Group B. During the group stage they held a 1-1 draw with Norway, suffered a 0-1 defeat in the game against France and beat the Czech Republic with a score of 2-1.
However, the semi-final against Filipe Ramos' side was hard, as they suffered a 0-4 defeat. Victor Ferreira opened the score in the 31st minute of the match with a penalty goal. In the first half's stoppage time Goncalo Ramos scored second for his side and then made it 3-0, before scoring the fourth goal in the stoppage time of the game.
The Republic of Ireland and Arsenal U-23 defender Mark McGuinness saw the defeat of his side and in an exclusive interview with Vbetnews
, he admitted it was disappointing.
"It was a tough game. In the first half we did well, but we conceded two soft goals and it's kindly disappointing
," said McGuiness.
Anyway, the youngster will return home with good memories about the tournament: "The tournament was great. We lost a few games and a few games have been fantastic not only for the boys but for the country back home
It's the first time Armenia hosts this kind of championship and impressions about the organization are really good.
"The organization has been really fantastic. It's my first time in Armenia and it's fantastic here. I really enjoyed my time here, people are really friendly
," added McGuinness and told about the visit to the orphanage in Yerevan, "We saw the difference between people. We are fortunate to play football and play in the competition like this and to see the other side of things it's fantastic, really humble
Image Source: UEFA
Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is the ambassador of the tournament, spoke to McGuiness before the 18-year-old's visit to his home country.
"I spoke to him before coming here and he was just saying good luck. He is a lovely guy
," said the defender.
McGuiness played in all four games for his country and spent 360 minutes on the field and now he is looking forward to making it to Arsenal's first team, but he doesn't know when the time will come for him.
"It's hard to say, but hopefully in the next few years, maybe, I'll get the opportunity
," concluded the youngster.
The Republic of Ireland will travel home, while Portugal U19 side will play in the final of the tournament against Spain U19 at Republican Stadium, on Saturday, July 27.