Goalscorer Matt Everitt insists 'more to come' as Irish U-17s look to bounce Czechs in Waterford
After a draw that felt like a defeat, Ireland's U-17s have little margin for error as they face a strong Czech Republic side at the Waterford RSC (kick-off 7.0pm) tonight in their second Group A game.
But if there was a small crumb of comfort to be gleaned from the disappointed faces in the bowels of Tallaght Stadium on Friday, the maturity of young men amidst the depths of disappointment offers much encouragement for the week ahead.
"The good thing is all the teams in our group are on the same amount of points," said Matt Everitt, Ireland's goalscorer in the controversial 1-1 draw against Greece.
"We go again against the Czech Republic and just need to get the boys' heads up. It's tournament football, every game you have to put it behind you and get on with the next one."
Although manager Colin O'Brien confronted the Danish referee in the aftermath of Friday's dramatic and controversial conclusion, almost as soon he received his explanation for allowing Dimtris Arsenidis' late, late goal to stand, the Corkman and his squad were minded to move on.
Not always easy within a group of teenagers whose levels of maturity might differ but the calming O'Brien and captain Séamas Keogh have marshalled them well.
"That's tournament football, it's unpredictable," said Keogh. "It's how you cope with it, you bounce back in your next game. We're ready to go again now."
This battle to discover the top two who will qualify for the knockouts has been reduced to a two-match sprint now, with all four teams in Group A playing out 1-1 draws; O'Brien, however, also knows, deep down, the value of the two-point buffer that was tossed away in the final seconds against a limited Greek side.
Ireland had enough chances to have eliminated the need for any late drama and, with Belgium and tonight's opponents still the favourites to top the group, the hosts cannot afford any more slip-ups.
"Yeah, we're disappointed we didn't take all of our chances in the first match," said Everitt. "I had a few myself, got past their backline, had a few counter-attacks but our final pass, our final decision, wasn't really there. We got our goal from a set-piece which is where we were a threat from but the finishing is something we're going to need to tidy up. There's more to come from us."
Ireland are at full strength with goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran available after serving a ban.
Corcoran was sent off in another dramatic tournament game involving O'Brien's men last summer, when he was dismissed for picking up a yellow card for encroachment during the quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Holland.
"Our patterns of play, our pressing, and our counter-attacking were good against Greece," said O'Brien.
"Now, we have an opportunity to take those positives into our next game and add even more to them in order to secure victory."
- Ireland U-17 v Czech Republic U-17, Live, RTÉ2, 7.0