Saturday 24 August 2019

Greek tragedy for Ireland under-17s as controversial injury-time goal denies Colin O'Brien's side a deserved win

Republic of Ireland 1 Greece 1

Matt Everitt of Republic of Ireland following the 2019 UEFA European Under-17 Championships Group A match between Republic of Ireland and Greece at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Matt Everitt of Republic of Ireland following the 2019 UEFA European Under-17 Championships Group A match between Republic of Ireland and Greece at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Many eyes may have scanned Tallaght Stadium's 4,265 attendance for a glimpse of Irish football's most dominant personality.

But there was no sign of John Delaney, the man credited with doing so much to ensure Ireland could host such a tournament as this.

Hamlet without the Prince, perhaps; then again, the play's the thing.

Sadly, it was a Greek tragedy, of sorts; Ireland dominated all evening and led through Matt Everitt's 58th minute until being undone in the final minute by a controversial decision.

Dimitris Arsenedis appeared offside when bungling home his goal, deep into injury-time, but though the linesman then  flagged, an earlier touch off Irish defender Sean McEvoy appeared to dissuade the referee.

"We’re gutted after such a good performance," said goalscorer Evertitt. "I realised he had the flag up and I don’t know what’s going on."

"It was a tough blow at the end," said manager Colin O'Brien, who confirmed that the referee told him that the Greek goal had been awarded due to McEvoy's unwitting intervention.

Controversy seems to dog this Irish team; last year, they were infamously undone in a penalty shoot-out quarter-final defeat to Holland when Jimmy Corcoran was sent off for encroachment.

Crucially, he also admitted his side could have been well out of sight before the late drama; the Czechs and Belgians, who also drew, are stronger teams but Ireland can improve too.

Ireland swiftly asserted dominance, creating the first of a series of well-worked chances, Joseph Hodge and Matthew Everitt linking well before Charlie McCann blazed over.

Everitt attempted to navigate an audacious route to goal from a free-kick to the left corner of the penalty corner but couldn’t effect enough swerve on the ball.

Ebosele’s deft feet then combined neatly with Charlie McCann but the latter’s shot was again insufficient to break the deadlock, even if the young Irish boys were having a great deal of fun playing with the keys.

Karamperis was too feisty for his own good, though, and eventually found the notebook after one foul too many.

At least the referee was here on time; another group game between England and France was delayed in Longford while the referee was being errantly driven to Athlone instead on an impromptu tour of the midlands.

“A wrong turning”, we were officially notified.

The game lulled and it was probably a surprise, then, when Ireland got the goal they may have deserved earlier in the piece during their most difficult period but, in the 58th minute, their belated reward arrived.

Furlong’s corner was headed purposefully back across goal by Omobamidele; Conor Carty nodded it on and, as a clambering defender scrambled, Brighton man Everitt pounced to poke the ball home.

Republic Of Ireland: G Bazunu; S McEvoy, A Omobamidele, O Sobowale (A McNulty 66), J Furlong; J Hodge; S Keogh capt; M Everitt (S Kennedy 90), C McCann (R McKinley 79), F Ebosale; C Carty.

Greece: K Tzolakis; A Tsavos, P Panagioutou, V Pavlidis, A Aventisian; T Karamperis, A Siatounis; V Souris (C Belevenos 86), V Grosdis (D Arsenedis 85), G Karakoutis (N Kotopoulus 73); C Tzolis.

Ref – J Burchardt (Denmark)

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