Slovenia pile pressure on U-19s for Latvia clash
Ireland 0 Slovenia 1
The Republic of Ireland's European U-19 Championship campaign started with a disappointing loss at Eamonn Deacy Park yesterday.
Lazio midfielder Mika Rokavec struck the decisive blow in the 32nd minute when he ended an incisive Slovenian counter-attack with a precise finish into the bottom corner past Ireland goalkeeper James Talbot.
Euan Mulhern almost pulled Ireland back on level terms but he couldn't steer his header on target after Olamide Shodipo provided the telling cross.
Paul Doolin's side carved out several second-half opportunities as the Slovenians dropped deeper and deeper with their one goal advantage. Mulhern saw another headed effort pushed to safety by Slovenian netminder Rok Vodisek.
Ireland continued to probe for an equaliser. Waterford United midfielder Ethan Boyle let fly with a blistering effort from 25 yards; his shot took a deflection en route to goal but Rok Viodisek was equal to his effort.
Ireland substitute Connor Ronan went within inches of levelling matters when he played a neat one-two with UCD star Dylan Watts, but his curling shot flew narrowly wide of the upright as the pressure from Ireland began to intensify.
Ireland continued to dictate the tempo of the game but they couldn't find a way past Slovenia's stubborn rearguard. Stephen Best ghosted past Slovenian full-back Marko Klemencic before picking out Olamide Shodipo, but he failed to hit the target at the back-post. With five minutes to play, it looked like Ireland had finally grabbed a merited equaliser when Mulhern had the ball in the net but Finnish referee Antti Munukka disallowed the goal for an infringement on goalkeeper Rok Vodisek.
Despite a late surge from Paul Doolin's charges, Slovenia held on for a valuable win at a windswept Eamonn Deacy Park. Ireland must put the disappointment of the loss behind them quickly because they are now under pressure to pick up three points against Latvia at the same venue tomorrow evening.
Republic of Ireland - Talbot; Deacy, Sweeney, Kane (Casey 28), Best; Poynton; Shodipo, Boyle, Watts (Ronan 75), Kelly; Mulhern.
Slovenia - Vodisek; Klemencic, Flis (Ogrinec 45), Karic, Pisek, Ivkic, Rokavec (Repas 65), Mlakar, Zuzek (Dedic 72), Mrkonja, Elsnik
REF - A Munukka (Finland)