Doolin proud as luck deserts U-19s
IRELAND'S young guns face an uphill task to qualify for the U-19 European Championship finals, though victory today over Ukraine (4.0) would resurrect their ambitions.
Saturday's defeat to hosts Portugal in their opening match of the elite qualifying group was all the more sickening as the winner arrived three minutes from full-time through a Michael Barker own-goal.
Ireland's dominance over their hosts didn't result in any points, yet manager Paul Doolin reckons it should boost belief amongst his charges that top spot and qualification is attainable.
"I felt that we battered them," said Doolin. "To come here and outplay an excellent Portugal side for long spells and still get nothing is very hard to take.
"It's hard to know if Portugal will drop points in their two remaining matches but they won't get a more difficult test the one we gave them."
Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rafael Veloso denied Anthony Forde on 10 minutes from the penalty spot, both the initial attempt and the re-take signalled after the officials spotted him coming off his goal-line.
The unmarked Watford man Sean Murray couldn't convert from six yards when John O'Sullivan picked him out at the back post, and Samir Carruthers saw his low drive early in the second half batted away by Veloso.
It just didn't seem like Ireland's day, and fate dealt them a cruel twist late on. From a breakaway off an Ireland free-kick, Portugal's Esgaio sprinted down the right channel before zipping a delivery to the far post which struck off substitute Barker and crept over the line.
Ireland -- S McDermott (Arsenal); C Morrissey (Trieste), N Byrne (Rochdale), D Williams (Aston Villa), B Garmston (West Brom); S Carruthers (Aston Villa), J O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), F Sutherland (QPR); S Murray (Watford), A O'Brien (Millwall), A Forde (Wolves). Subs: M Barker (Bohemians) for Morrissey (h-t), S Kavanagh (Fulham) for Garmston (76).