(Ireland win 2-1 on aggregate)
BRIAN Kerr's latest crop of footballing colts have qualified for the finals of the U-19 European Championships after a tense night in Cork.
Last night's sell-out return leg at Turners Cross ended in a goalless draw and that was more than enough to sweep Kerr and his kids to an eighth major finals in five years at the helm of youths football in this country.
Kerr's side started the more inventive and enterprising side but they found Dutch goalkeeper Boy Waterman in superb form in the opening half.
The Heerenveen 'keeper winning only his third cap denied the home side a lead goal no fewer than four times in the first half as he saved brilliantly from Glenn Whelan's 30-yard dig, Sean Thornton's stinging drive mid-way through and twice from Adrian Deane before the break.
The sell-out crowd of 7,500 were a little subdued in that opening period in which the Irish boys again had the better of the play, apart from the ten minutes to half-time.
Tranmere's Sean Thornton saved Irish blushes early on when he popped up in his own penalty box to get his head behind Lim Duan's goalbound drive but, by and large, the Irish controlled the tie.
The Dutch going into the tie with a one goal deficit saw more of the bll in the closing minutes of the first half but they had nothing to show for that spell of superiority.
Irish 'keeper Brian Murphy, one of four Manchester City players in the starting eleven, was in commanding form as he patrolled his penalty area with purpose.
Holland were the first to threaten after the break when Lim-Duan's drive was scrambled away for a corner by Murphy after 49 minutes and then Irish skipper Graham Ward had to clear off the line from Dutch midfielder Nicky Hofs.
Gradually the Dutch were gaining the upper hand and Ireland made their first change after 53 minutes when Bolton's Clive Ross stepped off the bench for a disappointing Glenn Whelan.
You could sense the anxiety sweeping right around the grounds as Holland poured forward in search of the two elusive goals that would have clinched them a final spot in Norway next month.
But it was not to be as Kerr's kids held firm on a chilly night on Leeside thanks to the experise of young 'keeper Murphy who was Ireland's man of the match.
The Dutch ended the tie with ten men when van Beukering was red carded for an injury-time foul on Thornton in the centre circle.
Ireland (4-3-3) - Murphy (Manchester City), Kelly (Tottenham), Paisley (Man. City), McCarthy (do), Capper (Sunderland); Ward (Wolves) capt,Whelan (Man. City), Thornton (Tranmere Rovers); Deane (Charlton Ath), Daly (Stockport County), Gethins (Ross County). Subs. Ross (Bolton Wanderers) for Whelan (53 mins), Elliott (Man. City) for Gethins (65 mins).
Holland - (4-5-1) - Waterman (Heerenveen); Verhaegh (PSV Eindhoven), Sprockel (Feyenoord), de Jong (Ajax), Jansen (Vitesse); Lim-Duan (Zwolle), Snejder (Ajax), Hofs (do), Hoogstrate (Groningen), Robben (do); van Beukering (Vitesse). Subs. Huntelaar (PSV Eindhoven) for Hofs (65 mins), Castelen (Den Haag) for Lim-Duan (75 mins), Rojer (Vitesse) for Verhaegh (89
Referee: Mr. Alfonso Perez Burrull (Spain)
Great stuff young lads, great stuff. Happy days to be an Ireland fan all around. Sounds like we played pretty well too. Onward to glory!