Joel Bradley helped the Northern Ireland Schools Under-18 team retain their place at the top of the Centenary Shield table with a hard fought 1-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland at the Riverside Stadium, Drumahoe.
The only goal of the game came on the half hour when Jonathan McMurray ran onto a neat flick by Joshua McIlwaine and netted with a deft lob over the advancing keeper. The home team was good value for the lead at this stage as they had started brightly and McIlwaine was only denied after 15 minutes by a daring save by Conor O’Malley.
McMurray went close to doubling his total after 59 minutes when he rose high to head a free kick by Ross Glendinning just over the bar.
In the closing stages the visitors pressed strongly in an effort to keep their championship hopes alive. Northern Ireland centre backs Jordan Dane and Adam Harwood withstood a constant barrage of high balls while man of the match, goalkeeper Jordan Williamson, produced a string of fine saves to keep the visiting attack at bay.
Northern Ireland complete their Centenary Shield campaign in Llanelli on April 19th, knowing that a win will clinch the title. However, it will not be easy as Wales currently lie in second place with six points from their two games.