'The referee has been cheated' - O'Brien furious as Ebosele red leaves a sour taste
Ireland U-17 1 Czech Republic U-17 1
Another draw for Colin O'Brien's Ireland, but this was a slightly happier ending - albeit with a bitter after-taste.
With two minutes remaining in Waterford, they were on the verge of suffering a painful defeat but centre-half Andrew Omobamidele rescued a point. Yet the joy was soured by a late red card for Festy Ebosele, a shocking call after some theatrics from Czech defender Jan Hellebrand that led the normally mild-mannered O'Brien to declare that the referee had been "cheated".
Considering the misfortune that his U-17 side have suffered this year and last, the depth of his frustration was understandable.
Ebosele was dismissed by the Slovenian official for a non-existent push and the fact that it was his second yellow means that FAI plans to appeal are likely to fall at the first hurdle.
Mistaken identity is the only avenue for overturning a yellow-card call and that option is not available.
"I will not be accepting one of my players being cheated," said the furious O'Brien.
"The referee has been cheated, the game has been cheated. It's embarrassing."
Conor Carty will also miss Thursday's decider with table-topping Belgium, a match that Ireland need to win to be sure of a place in the quarter-finals.
If they draw again, they also need the meeting of the Czechs and the Greek side that stole a point in Tallaght last Friday to finish in a lower-scoring draw. Carty was booked in that fixture.
O'Brien was pleased with the "calm" and "gutsy" response from his side after falling behind in the 64th minute of a scrappy encounter that was punctuated by stoppages and frequent appearances for the medics, with Czech antics angering the 2,613 crowd.
As expected, the FAI's sidelined executive vice-president John Delaney was absent from an occasion that he doubtless would have enjoyed given his Waterford connections.
Mick McCarthy was present, however.
O'Brien chose to mix things up slightly after Friday's gut-wrenching disappointment against Greece, when a controversial goal denied them the win they deserved.
He sprung a surprise for the Czechs by rotating his front three with central striker Carty dispatched to the left wing, Ebosele switching sides to the right, and Friday's goalscorer Matt Everitt moving into the centre.
The manager restored them to their normal positions at the interval following an opening 45 where both teams had dangerous spells.
Carty skied Ireland's best opportunity over the bar.
The Czechs had surprised the Belgians with a strong second half display in their opening match and they resumed smartly as Ireland toiled for a spell.
O'Brien admitted they "knocked off" after the guests made a change and, from the subsequent throw, fresh arrival Vaclav Sejk converted with his first touch.
But Ireland upped their performance level afterwards and their industry was rewarded when James Furlong's corner was calmly converted by Omobamidele before the fraught conclusion.
Ireland - G Bazunu; S McEvoy, A Omobamidele, A MacNulty, J Furlong; J Hodge; S Keogh (B Holt 68); F Ebosale, C McCann (S Kennedy 85), C Carty (J Giurgi 75); M Everitt
Czech Republic - A Stejskal, J Kozeluh, S Stary, J Hellebrand, P Kurka; L Hronik, T Hajek; D Pech, A Ritter (F Gedeon 84), V Wojatschke (F Silhart 84); A Toula (V Sejk 64)
Ref - R Obrenovic (Slovenia).