01.02.1999 at 19:00 Cape Town
1 - 1
Rep of Ireland
Referee: Sergei Shmolik (Belarus)
Meridian Cup / PROG-match
Draw ko's Irish boys and Kerr is incensed
Republic of Ireland 1
REPUBLIC OF Ireland coach Brian Kerr launched into a finger-wagging attack on referee Sergei Shmolik after Ireland were controversially knocked out of the Meridian Cup yesterday.
Kerr approached the Belarussian official after the final whistle on a 1-1 draw that condemned Ireland to third place in the group and an early return home.
Kerr blamed Shmolik for refusing to allow Keith Foy to receive treatment for a head injury and then awarding a free-kick rather a penalty when Glenn Fitzpatrick was taken down inside the area.
"He seemed to be looking for opportunities to do us down," said Kerr.
"When our keeper kicked the ball out so Keith Foy could get treatment he refused to allow the trainer on and they threw the ball straight into the box and scored. It was very frustrating. We controlled the game and I couldn't have asked for more from our players."
Needing a win to progress to the semi-finals, Ireland dominated the opening 45 minutes as in all three of their games. They finally got their reward with a typically incisive strike - perfectly timed, two minutes before the break.
Cork born Liam Miller beat four players on halfway before threading an inch perfect ball into the inside right channel for Brendan McGill to race onto and lash past Wael Ahmed.
Up to that point Egypt looked intent on playing for the draw they knew would be good enough to see them through.
They employed man markers on lone strike David McMahon and skipper and midfielder Shaun Byrne. McMahon was closely marshalled but an early indication of the way the wind was blowing was when he was booked for a foul on his equally lanky marker Hussein Amin.
McMahon was to the be victim of uncompromising handling throughout the rest of the match without his assailant receiving any sanction.
Egypt hit back quickly at the start of the new half with Ireland's concentration disturbed while Foy writhed on the ground after being kicked in the head.
Egypt displayed dubious sportsmanship by retaining possession after Joe Murphy had deliberately knocked the ball out to allow treatment on Foy.
Instead Egypt threw the ball in on the absent Foy's left flank with centre-forward Reda Shehata first to pounce, cracking home a right footed shot from eight yards.
Ireland's players were incense with skipper Byrne lucky not to have earned a yellow card for an animated protest to the referee. Kerr meanwhile was complaining volubly to the fourth official on the touchline.
Ireland again forced the pace and at the death might have claimed the winner they deserved when Fitzpatrick was taken down from behind by man-marker Mahmoud Mahmoud.
However, Shmolik gave the award outside the area and Gary Dempsey's direct freekick flew high over the bar.
"They got the goal and then defended like hell," said Kerr. "We knew we had to win but we have been playing top class opposition in this competition and we've learnt a lot from it." Kerr, assistant Noel O'Reilly and administrator Kevin Fahey all went on to the field at the final whistle to complain to an unmoved referee.
Fahey said afterwards that a UEFA doctor on duty had told him that the referee had no right to refuse Foy treatment. Referees are instructed to immediately permit players with head injuries to receive treatment.
Foy remained prone, clutching his head for a perhaps two minutes and was still rubbing his head long after the Egyptian equaliser.
In truth it was not a great game but Ireland had the better chances and at no point in the tournament were they ever outplayed or outclassed - even in their 3-1 defeat by Spain.
"We've learnt more about the players and more about the group and it has been an experience for all of us," said Kerr. "There are some things I don't understand though. Why for instance when every meeting of UEFA or FIFA or CAF that you attend they talk about fair play and then they make us play at 2pm or 4pm in these conditions. That's patently not fair and there was no reason why we couldn't kick off later.
"The European Championships are more important than this though and it's another step on that road. We scored some great goals and we've played some good football but we've also learnt that we'll have to get stronger physically."
In the other group game Spain beat South Africa 6-0 to finish top of the group.
Scorers: McGill 1-0 (43), Shehata 1-1 (54)
IRELAND: (4-5-1): Murphy; Thompson (Dempsey, 64), McCrystal, O'Shea, Foy; McGill (Fitzpatrick, 75), Butler, Miller, S.Byrne, Reid; McMahon.
EGYPT: (3-1-4-1-1): Ahmed; Ahmed El Sayed, Amin, Abouel Mohamed; Mahmoud; Shawky (Ahmed Mohamed, 74), Mohamed El Sayed, Mahrous, Abou Moslem; Kaled Mohamed (Mohsen, 79); Shehata (Hosny, 90).
Referee: Sergei Shmolik (Belarus)