Doolin hails 'outstanding' Irish comeback as four see red
Ireland U-19 2 Slovakia U-19 2
Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30
Despite battling back from two goals down yesterday to draw against Slovakia in a fiery encounter, Ireland finished bottom of their U-19 UEFA Championship elite group in Germany.
Narrow defeats to Czech Republic and Germany in their first two fixtures put Ireland out of the running to reach the finals in July and at half-time in Mannheim they looked to be going home pointless
The Slovaks, needing victory to challenge Germany for the one qualifying berth on offer from the pool, sped into a 12th-minute lead through Denis Vavro before Lukas Cmelík punished them on the counter a minute before the break to make it 2-0.
A frantic last 13 minutes began with Ireland reducing the arrears through Ryan Manning's penalty after Noe Baba was upended in the box. Slovakia's discipline then imploded as three players - including one from the substitute's bench - were red-carded along with Ireland's Kevin Toner during a seven-minute spell.
Ireland duly profited in stoppage-time, with a pinpoint cross from substitute Reece Grego-Cox allowing Joel Coustrain smash home the equaliser.
"We were hoping to get something from the last game and we deserved it," said Doolin. "Slovakia are a good side but we didn't get the draw from just character, it was from great play.
"We were outstanding in the second half. It was probably just as well the game ended when it did as the discipline seemed to have gone from the match."
Ireland's quest to reach the showpiece for the first time since 2011 must continue next season.
Ireland - Doherty; Baba, Kelleher, Toner, Moseley; Dimaio (Charsley 58), Cullen; McGrath, Hallahan (Grego-Cox 76), Goldsmith (Coustrain 61); Manning.
Slovakia - Rodak; Kadlec, Vavro, Kruzliak (Berezny 30), Kacer; Benes, Vestenicky; Lesniak (Haraslin 69), Cmelik, Spalek (Polievka 55); Chvatal.