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Morling's troops facing uphill task

IRELAND'S U-17s have it all to do to reach the finals of the European Championship following a 1-0 defeat by Serbia in their opening game of the elite stage qualifying competition.

A close-range finish 14 minutes from time by Partizan Belgrade midfielder Milan Jokic settled this cagey encounter in Eindhoven.

Ireland spurned a late chance to snatch a draw when Jonathan Leddy missed a penalty.

The defeat leaves Ireland needing to beat Holland tomorrow to have any chance of winning the four-nation group and feature at the finals in Slovenia in May.

A minute before the breakthrough, Jack Grealish spurned a glorious chance when he blazed over with the goal at his mercy.

Serbia always posed a threat, especially with €3m-rated attacker Filip Jankovic in their ranks, and he crossed for Jokic to prod home.

Two minutes from the finish, Grealish was taken down in the box, but Leddy was unable to capitalise from the spot.

Defiant boss John Morling insisted afterwards that Ireland's Euro crusade is not over yet. "Winning against Holland on their home patch will be a big task, but I saw enough from our team against Serbia to be convinced we can do it," he said.

IRELAND -- E Grimes; S Long, K McFadden, R O'Reilly, S Coyne; T Mulroney, G O'Neill (C Wilkinson 73), J Leddy; D Hayes (D McGlade 73), S Byrne, J Grealish.

SERBIA -- Rajkovic; Jaksic, Zdjelar, Veljkovic, Milosevic; Spremo (Lekovic 78), Jokic, Sakic, Simic; Jankovic; Bajic (Zivkovic 51).

Owls swoop to seal loan deal for Treacy

KEITH TREACY has joined Sheffield Wednesday on an emergency loan deal until the end of the season.

The Irish international has struggled for game time at Burnley and has made just five appearances for the Championship club since Christmas.

He will drop down a division to join the Owls, who are currently third in League One and chasing promotion.

Treacy has been capped six times for Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni, the last of those coming in the friendly against Croatia last summer.

Irish Independent