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Doolin: Home guard must work to plug gap

PAUL Doolin believes that Ireland's home-based players have some work to do before they can match their cross-channel counterparts.

That was Doolin's verdict after his Ireland U23 team, made up of home-based players, lost 2-1 at home to the England C team in the RSC last night, the opening game for Ireland in the International Challenge Trophy.

Goals from Andrew Fleming and Max Porter gave the English side, made up of players from the Conference, a 2-0 lead in front of 1,570 fans in Waterford, before a goal from Bohemians striker Paddy Madden put Ireland back in the game, but England held on for the win.

"I thought we played well and deserved a draw," said Doolin afterwards. "But you can see there is a gap there.

"People think that the players in our league can play in the Championship or League One across the water, and I know that we have some very good players in the league here. But the financial climate in the league now is not strong, a lot of people will say that.

"Our players were found out physically at times and they just weren't able to match the England team," added Doolin.

the Ireland U19s' hopes of making the finals of the UEFA Championship were dealt a heavy blow yesterday after they lost their opening game of the elite qualifying phase in Kiev, with a 1-0 loss to England.

Although the English scored the only goal, the Irish controlled the game for large periods.

Manchester United's Robbie Brady caused the English all sorts of problems and twice went close before Dean Parrett crashed home a stunning free-kick to give them an undeserved lead.

Ireland started the second half strongly and Brady came agonisingly close for a third time after receiving a short corner from Conor Henderson. Then Conor Hourihane rattled the crossbar.

After Brady had gone close yet again, England almost added insult to injury in the dying seconds when substitute Andros Townsend hit the upright.

Ireland must beat defending champions Ukraine -- who last night beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-1 -- tomorrow to retain their hopes of qualification.