Irish suffer Greek tragedy
Published 25/03/2010 | 05:00
IRELAND'S U-17s got the win they needed against Austria in the final match of their qualifying group for the UEFA Championship finals in Greece yesterday, but they missed out on top spot as the hosts scored twice in the last eight minutes to beat Finland 2-1.
Ireland took the lead after 20 minutes through Aiden O'Brien and three minutes after the restart Kevin Knight nodded in a second.
Ireland were reduced to 10 men within two minutes when George Smith was shown the yellow card for the second time, but that setback had little impact on their play and O'Brien made it 3-0 after 71 minutes.
At that stage, Ireland were poised for the finals but a dramatic turn of events at nearby Panahaiki conspired against them as Dimitrios Diamantakos' double sent Greece through.
Sean McCaffrey's charges still have a glimmer of hope as finals hosts Liechtenstein have decided that their team is not up to the required standard to compete, so the best runners-up in the seven groups will replace them.
However, six points and a goal difference of just plus-one leaves the Irish outsiders to sneak in.
Republic of Ireland -- S McDermott (Arsenal); M Keane (Manchester United), N Yadolahi (Burnley), S McGinty (Manchester United), D Williams (Aston Villa); S Murray (Watford), F Sutherland (QPR), S Byrne (Leicester City), K Knight (Leicester City); D Purdy (West Ham United), A O'Brien (Millwall). Subs: G Smith (Southend United) for Purdy (25), A Rodgers (Chelsea) for Murray (h-t), R Bryan (Aston Villa) for O'Brien (72).