Monday 18 December 2017

King admits display 'not good enough'

Slovenia u-21 3-1 Ireland u-21

Republic of Ireland U-21 manager Noel King. Photo: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland U-21 manager Noel King. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Martin O'Neill will be glad to have so many Euro 2016 selection options already after the next generation capitulated in Slovenia yesterday.

Ireland can still sneak an U-21 play-off spot, but only in a mathematical sense, following a fourth straight loss and probably the most convincing of the campaign.

Once they switched off from a 14th-minute corner to allow full international Luka Krajnc prod in the opener, the absence of any real cohesion to Ireland's attack made for a worrying evening.

Ian Lawlor, finally restored to the No 1 position, was kept busy trying to repel the 12 attempts from which the hosts hit the target.

He was beaten again on 55 minutes from the penalty spot - Gregor Bajde tucking the ball low into the corner following the concession of a spot-kick by Sean Long.

Noel King's side were back in the game 10 minutes later when Callum O'Dowda profited from a blunder by goalkeeper Grega Sorcan, who allowed a tame shot to squirm through his grasp.

Still, the efforts kept coming from the hosts and Miha Zajc, fresh from a senior cap against Macedonia last week, speared his free-kick over the wall and into the top corner with 18 minutes left.

"Overall, it wasn't a good enough performance and a disappointing result," admitted King.

"We will see how the other games in the group pan out in the coming weeks before looking at bringing in the next age group for our remaining qualifiers. We have some very talented young players coming through and they will get their chance."

Coupled with defeats for the U-17s and U-18s over Easter, O'Neill wouldn't want to look too far ahead.

SLOVENIA - G Sorcan; D Sme, L Ejup, L Krajnc; A Krefl, N Kapun, Z Benedicic, D Crnigoj; M Zajc, G Bajde, Z Kastrevec. Subs: L Stulac for Benedicic (46 mins), D Hotic for Kastrevec (56 mins), L Zahovic for Bajde (78 mins).

IRELAND - I Lawlor (Manchester City); S Long (Reading), S Hoare (St Patrick's Ath), N Keown (Reading), S Griffin (Reading); D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), C Dimaio (Chesterfield); C O'Dowda (Oxford United), J Byrne (SC Cambuur), J Connors (Dagenham); C Wilkinson (Portsmouth). Subs: S Maguire (Cork City) for Wilkinson (39 mins), D Connolly (Bray Wanderers) for Griffin (61 mins), J Barrett (Reading) for O'Dowda (75 mins).

Ref- A Treimanis (LVA).

Irish Independent

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