The Irish U-18 European Champions of 1998

February 28, 2008 at 1:19 am 5 comments

Ireland Euro Champs 1998

Ten years ago, in 1998, Brian Kerr led two Ireland youth teams to win the U-16 and U-18 European Championship titles, and Ireland became the first ever country to hold both titles in the same year. The above picture shows Kerr celebrating with Liam George, who scored the winning goal in the final, and assistant manager Noel O’Reilly.

In the U-18 tournament in Cyprus, we were in a group with Croatia, England and Cyprus. Going in to the last games of the group, England manager Howard Wilkinson was so confident that he complained that his players were expected to attend a three-hour reception before playing in the final.

As it happened, Ireland beat Cyprus 3-0 to top the group on goal difference, so Wilkinson’s players were spared the trouble of attending the reception. Instead it was Ireland who proceeded to the final, to face the might of Germany. Here’s a review of that final against Germany, and a look at the members of the U-18 Irish squad who conquered Europe a decade ago. >>>

Ireland U-18s v Germany U-18s

The Germans dominated the first half, with Sebastian Kehl missing two chances. However, Ireland recovered after the interval, thanks largely to an inspirational midfield performance from substitute Alan Quinn. With twenty minutes left Robbie Keane beat two German defenders and shielded the ball from a third, before passing to Quinn who smashed the ball high into the German net from six yards out. Ireland then took control, and could have been four goals ahead when the Germans equalised just seconds before the end of injury time.

Extra time came and went, and the sides faced a penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Alex O’Reilly saved the first German effort, before Ryan Casey, Paul Donnelly and Barry Quinn all scored. Robbie Keane surprisingly missed, and after nine spot-kicks the score was tied at three goals each. It was striker Liam George, from second division Luton, who stepped up to take the shot that could conquer Europe.

George was one of the two English-born players in the squad; his father Victor was from St Lucia and his mother Anne was from Fairview in Dublin. The dreadlocked youth coolly sent the German keeper the wrong way, and he was swamped by his delirious team-mates. For the second time in less than three months, Ireland were European youth champions. To make the achievement even more remarkable, no country had ever before held both youth titles at the same time.

The Ireland under-18s who were champions of Europe

Who were Brian Kerr and coach Noel O’Reilly’s second squad of European champions, and where did they learn their football? Few of them would have remembered Jack Charlton’s appointment as Ireland manager, and they were all about nine years old when they saw Ireland play in the Italy World Cup. Three of them played schoolboy football with Crumlin United, another three with Home Farm, and two each with Belvedere, Cherry Orchard and Lourdes Celtic. Most had just turned thirteen when Ireland reached the USA World Cup.

Now four years later, as they became European youth champions in 1998, Saint Pats defender Keith Doyle was the only one of them still playing his football in Ireland. Three had already played in English premiership games: midfielders Stephen McPhail at fifth-placed Leeds and Barry Quinn at mid-table Coventry, along with defender Richard Dunne at struggling Everton.

Another five were also on the books of English premiership clubs. Striker Richard Partridge was at third-placed Liverpool, while midfielder Paul Donnelly was at Leeds. Goalkeeper Alex O’Reilly was at mid-table West Ham, while midfielder Alan Quinn and fellow keeper Dean Delaney were hovering above the premiership drop-zone at Sheffield Wednesday and Everton.

Striker David Freeman was on the books of English first division champions Nottingham Forest, while defender Jason Gavin and midfielder Ronnie O’Brien were with runners-up Middlesboro. Also with mid-table English first division teams were striker Robbie Keane at Wolves (who by then had already played for the Ireland senior team), and defender Thomas Heary at Huddersfield.

Utility player Gary Doherty and striker Liam George were on the books of second division Luton, and midfielder Ryan Casey was with third division Swansea. The final squad member, midfielder Ger Crossley, was with Celtic in the Scottish premier league.


Entry filed under: Ireland, Sports.

The Wacky World of Property, Politics and Law Ireland U-18 Champs – Where Are They Now?

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 1998 Champions  |  February 28, 2008 at 10:32 am

    […] Michael Nugent of That’s Ireland has a post about the Irish U-16 & U-18 European Champions of 1998: Ten years ago, in 1998, Brian Kerr led two Ireland youth teams to win the U-16 and U-18 European Championship titles, and Ireland became the first ever country to hold both titles in the same year […]

  • […] 29, 2008 Following yesterday’s post about the Ireland U-18 team that conquered Europe a decade ago, On the Ditch was wondering where […]

  • […] Donnelly rattled the back of the net. At the time Donnelly was at Leeds Utd and was playing in the U18 European Championships. He played along side future stars like Robbie Keane and Richard […]

  • 4. thomas scott  |  September 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Go on ireland. Only team to have done the double in same year. Luck of the irish. We showed england how to play ha

  • 5. amigo ni george  |  October 5, 2012 at 4:37 am

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site.

    He used to be totally right. This put up truly made my day.
    You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


February 2008
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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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