THE Republic of Ireland's hopes of reaching the UEFA U21 Championships play-offs ended after a frustrating loss to Hungary in Kecskemet.
Noel King's side produced a solid display last night but ultimately suffered defeat as a result of two poor defensive lapses in the first half.
Ireland can now no longer claim second spot in Group Seven but head into their final fixture against top placed Italy at the Giuseppe Capozza stadium in Casarano on Monday looking to end the group on a high.
One positive to come out of the game was that Manchester United starlet Robbie Brady set a new under-21 scoring record for Ireland when he notched his seventh at this level with a first half penalty.
The Hungarians looked impressive in the opening minutes and Irish keeper Ian McLoughlin made two saves from Adam Bodi in the sixth and eighth minutes.
Rhys Murphy had a golden chance to put Ireland ahead in the 12th minute when he connected with a Conor Henderson cross after good work by Aidan White and Brady but the striker headed wide on the stretch.
Three minutes later the home side had taken the lead when Leicester City striker Marko Futacs fired home with a low strike from 25 yards.
The Irish had a penalty claim rejected in the 20th minute when Murphy got behind the home defence and appeared to be felled in box.
Seven minutes later the Hungarians had another penalty escape when Ferenc Fodor appeared to handle the ball in the area. Once again the Bulgarian official waved play on.
To compound the frustration, Hungary broke down the other end of the pitch almost immediately and Istvan Kovacs scored from a low Futacs cross after a rapid counterattack.
Murphy was denied a certain goal in the 31st minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the box but his shot on the turn was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
The Irish finally had a turn of fortune in the 39th minute when a powerful run by Greg Cunningham saw him taken down by Fodor for a penalty.
Brady stepped up to send Gulacsi the wrong way from the spot-kick to put Ireland right back in the game.
Three minutes later Aidan White was sent through by Brady but he slipped the ball just wide with only the keeper to beat. It was to prove the best opportunity the Irish had to level.
Hungary were handed a golden opportunity to extend their lead in the 45th minute when a strike by Futacs was charged down by Shane Duffy and the referee deemed it had struck the defender's hand.
Irish keeper McLoughlin had already made a penalty stop in this campaign and he proved his class once again when he made an impressive save to deny Futacs from the spot-kick. Remarkably the striker fired the rebound wide.
The second half was a tighter affair as the home side set about keeping their goal intact and hitting the Irish on the break.
Hendrick was also a whisker away from connecting with an 81st minute cross by Brady and defender Attila Fiola was fortunate not to divert the loose ball into his own net.
The home side held firm from then on and claimed the three points. Ireland remain in third place but are still five points behind second-placed Turkey, who have completed their fixtures.