Derry City's Brian Maher shines in Republic of Ireland U21 win in Sweden
Derry City goalkeeper Brian Maher played a major role in Republic of Ireland U21's fantastic 2-0 win over Sweden U21, in the Boras Arena
Jim Crawford's side secured the valuable three points thanks to goals from ex-Bohemians striker Ross Tierney and substitute Tyreik Wright, to move them a point behind the Swedes, who sit in second place behind leaders Italy, as qualification for Euro U21 Championships really starts to hot up.
Maher, who was very clear in his decision making throughout, made a big save to deny striker Amin Sarr on 11 minutes when the big front man latched onto Jesper Tolinsson's ball over the top.
After the game Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley praised the Candy Stripes keeper and felt the Dubliner could have pipped Tierney for the man of the match prize.
“That was his experience of playing in these type of games,” Bradley stated on RTE about Maher’s performance.
“He’s playing in big games for his club and he was fantastic today. He was really calm, and his decisions are really clear.
“He’s brave like the rest of the team. Ross Tierney deserved man of the match tonight, but Brian Maher was brilliant, he wasn’t far off him.”
Ex-Fulham and Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Kelly was also full of praise for the 21-year-old net-minder, who trained with Stephen Kenny's senior squad last week.
“There’s nothing better as a defender when your goalkeeper comes and takes corners, giving you an early shout to just relieve that pressure," Kelly admitted.
“Sweden floated balls into the box, and some keepers come and punch the ball away from danger, or miss them, But he was so confident, and everything just stuck to him.
“It relieved so much tension and he was such a calming influence for them. I thought he was brilliant.”
Derry City's number two Alan Reynolds also played his part in the success, as he's part of Crawford's back-room team that worked out a superb game plan to secure the impressive victory, which gives the U21's a great chance of qualifying for championships, which will be jointly hosted by Georgia and Romania, in 2023.
Crawford's young squad now have home games against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro and then if they do the business in those two matches, it could then all come down to the final day game away to the Italian's.