Southampton’s young Irish contingent enjoyed a successful day of international action on Wednesday.
Thomas O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi both started for Republic of Ireland Under-19s, as they kicked off their UEFA Under-19 Championship Elite Round fixtures with a 1-1 draw against Slovakia.
Afolabi played an important role in Ireland’s goal, winning a penalty that was dispatched by Aaron Connolly in the 76th minute, cancelling out a Michal Tomič goal on the hour mark.
O’Connor and Afolabi’s Saints teammate Michael Obafemi was an unused substitute for the game, but will hope for action when Ireland face Kosovo on Saturday.
After that game, head coach Tom Mohan’s side will round off their Elite Round campaign against Portugal, who are hosts for their group, with all three of their fixtures taking place in the country.
The group winners will then advance to this summer’s Under-19 European Championship finals, in Finland.
Elsewhere, Saints duo Kameron Ledwidge and Sean Brennan helped Ireland to a superb start in their UEFA Under-17 Championship Elite Round campaign, as they won 3-0 against Macedonia to go top of their group.
Brennan was among the scorers, netting the second goal, to give the Irish a fine start, ahead of upcoming games with Georgia and hosts Poland, with the top two advancing to this summer’s finals in England.