Eastern Region IRL 2-0 Ankara
Birthday boy Darren Dunne set the seal on a confident Group A success for the hosts after Gregory Moorhouse headed them in front.
Article top media content
• Gregory Moorhouse heads opener; birthday boy Darren Dunne gets second from the spot
• Victory against South Moravia on Sunday could put hosts through to the final
• Next games: Eastern Region v South Moravia, Ankara v Tuzla (28 June)
The UEFA Regions' Cup hosts made a powerful start in Dublin, Eastern Region IRL showing fire and skill to get the better of Ankara in Group A.
Eastern Region boss Gerry Smith said before the tournament that players were becoming more muscular with every edition of the elite amateur tournament, but his sides continue to raise their game in that department too. Their Turkish opponents showed skilful touches aplenty – Gökhan Demircan and Muhammet Kizilkaya have Brazilian skills, and Copacabana hairstyles to match – but the home side oozed menace, David Lacey going close with a leathery volley early on.
Harrying opponents led to their opener on 27 minutes; Laurence Dunne whipped in a ball from the right after Ankara failed to clear their lines, and Gökhan Köksal could not claw Gregory Moorhouse's header out of his net. Paul Breen passed up a great chance to score a second within two minutes, but any regrets were soon forgotten. Fatih Ekşioğlu brought down James Carr in the box in added time, inviting Darren Dunne to mark his 28th birthday by sending Gökhan Köksal the wrong way from the spot.
A defensive header that just shaded past Brendan O'Connell's post sounded a warning against complacency after the break, and Muhammet Kizilkaya forced the goalkeeper to make a save after a tidy one-touch move, but Ankara never looked like scoring.
Smith's men take on the other matchday one winners in their section, South Moravia, in their next match; win that, and they could well book a place in the 4 July final.