'It's a sickener' - Colin O'Brien confident his Ireland under-17 side can bounce back from late, late drama
IRELAND U17 boss Colin O'Brien has vowed his side can bounce back from after yet more last-minute agony as their European Championship campaign opened with a 1-1 draw against Greece in a dramatic Group A clash in Tallaght.
O'Brien's men had led from the 58th minute of a match they dominated, Matt Everitt's goal ensuring they were destined to finish the first day of the tournament ahead of fancied duo, the Czechs and Belgians, who had drawn 1-1 earlier.
However, Dimritis Arsenedis nabbed an equaliser with virtually the final kick of the game, despite the assistant referee raising an offside flag as the substitute pounced on a long free-kick from his goal-keeper.
O'Brien confronted Danish referee Jergen Burchardt on the final whistle to demand an explanation as the dejected irish players slumped to the turf, and the attendance of 4,265 hissed their displeasure.
"Our player deliberately played the ball so that means their player is in the second part of the play," was O'Brien's report of his interaction with the referee. "By the rule it’s a goal. By all accounts, the player was in an offside position when it dropped into the box.
"It was a deliberate action. If it bounced off him and into his path, it might be different. If the action is deliberate the player in an offside position is live and in play. That’s that.
"Yeah, it's a sickener. We didn’t even a chance to go and attack. I think we deserved to win the game.
"We were excellent for 35 minutes, I felt we could have been a goal up by half-time. We had the two best opportunities of the first half.
"They had a spell at the end of the first half but I thought we defended brilliantly. You could see nerves for both teams in the second half. We got the goal we deserved.
"Everybody has jumped out of the blocks and got a point. We need to move on now and prepare for the Czechs on Monday."
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.