The Republic of Ireland U21s have earned their second win of their Euro qualifying campaign, emerging as convincing 2-0 winners against Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium this evening.
It was an utterly dominant performance from the home side right from the first whistle, with one man standing out in particular.
Ireland took the lead in the 18th minute, with striker JJ Kayode making their early pressure pay off.
It was a good move from Jim Crawford's side, with the Rotherham man making an excellent run across the front post to turn home Tyreik Wright's cross.
A really good move from Ireland ends with JJ Kayode diverting the ball into the Luxembourg net to give the hosts a 1-0 lead #COYBIG | #IRLU21 | #IRLLUX #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/HqzAWtGlw1
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) October 8, 2021
One notable aspect of the opening period was just how dominant Gavin Kilkenny looked in midfield.
After previously being on the fringes of the Bournemouth first team over the last couple of seasons, he established himself as a key member of the squad at the start of this season.
Normally a winger by trade, he excelled under Scott Parker operating in a central midfield role in the early portion of the season. The Dubliner has found playing time a bit tougher to come by in recent weeks, with a number of senior players returning from injury at the club. However, there is no doubting his class.
Many felt Kilkenny should have been included in Stephen Kenny's senior squad last month, and judging by his performance this evening, he surely can't be too far away from such an honour.
The 21-year old was the standout performer in the game against Luxembourg. Sitting in midfield, he dictated the pace of the play, continually moving the opposition from side to side with his passing.
It seemed that everything Ireland did well in the opening 45 minutes went through him.
That continued in the second half, with the home side really putting their stamp on the game. There was little doubt about the result after Conor Coventry converted from the penalty spot just after the hour mark.
In the end, it was a comfortable 2-0 win for Jim Crawford's side.
Whether Kilkenny can make a senior breakthrough before the end of the year could largely depend on his playing time at club level. Scott Parker recently admitted the player could find minutes tough to come by in the weeks and months ahead, with a January loan move looking like a possibility.
While this may hinder his senior international hopes in the short-term, there is no doubt that he is an exciting prospect for the years ahead.
Ireland have often struggled to hold onto the ball in the middle third, something Stephen Kenny has been attempting to change. Kilkenny's performance against Luxembourg showed that he is a player that could help in this regard.
He certainly seems to have made major strides in recent months. That only points towards a bright future for him in a green jersey.
This was Ireland's second win of the campaign, adding to the victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina and the draw against Luxembourg last month.
They will now face into a tricky looking trip to Montenegro next week.