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23.10.2002 at 19:30 Turner's Cross - Cork Attendance: 3500
Rep of Ireland 0 - 1 France
Referee: René Rogalla (SUI) European Qualifier-match

None. Jonathan Lacourt 30 mins;
Opening squads
Darren Quigley
Damien Kelly
Paul Mc Shane
Shane Mc Faul
Stephen Foley- Sheridan
Aidan Mc Geady
Stephen O'Donnell
Patrick Cregg
Leon Best
Ciaran Lyng
Gerry Gill
Geoffrey Jourdren
Habib Bellaid
Arnaud Lescure
Alexandre Barthe
Jonathan Lacourt
Stephen Vincent
Younes Kaboul
Ted Lavie
Didier Digard
Alexis Allart
Yoann Gourcuff
Conrad Logan
David Elbert
Gerard Nash
Darren O'Brien
Mark Sheridan
Andrew Keogh
Niall Flynn
Vincent Briant
Mourad Benhamida
Rudy Carlier
Sylvain Marveaux
Thomas Bodart
Thibault Marchal
Florian Marange
David Elbert -> Shane Mc Faul (41)
Andrew Keogh -> Leon Best (57)
Niall Flynn -> Gerry Gill (68)
Alexis Allart (out)
Rudy Carlier (in) 57 mins;
Yoann Gourcuff (out)
Thomas Bodart (in)84 mins;
Yellow cards
David Elbert (60)
Stephen Foley- Sheridan (83)
Didier Digard 51 mins;
Red cards
None. None
Match report | Preview

Pictures from the match
Ireland 0 France 1

Ireland's brave attempt to compensate for their loss to Germany foundered on the rock that was the French defence in an exciting qualifying tie of the European U17 Championship before 3,500 spectators at Turner’s Cross yesterday.

France scored ten minutes before half time and defended with impressive efficiency throughout a second half in which Ireland played with real drive and initiative. Ireland found goalkeeper Jourdren in outstanding form and, in a tense closing five minutes, he saved well from Stephen Foley Sheridan and then watched with relief as substitute Andrew Keogh drove another opportunity narrowly wide.

France deserved their win because of their first-half superiority but there was precious to choose between them at the final whistle. Ireland persisted with such determination and spirit that the game was exciting and eventful for the entire 80 minutes.

“It is hard to be disappointed when Ireland played with such spirit” said manager Brian Kerr, “and the players gave it everything. I cannot fault them and my only reaction is to reflect on the luck of the draw that put us into the same qualifying group as France and Germany. In fact, you could more correctly say it was the bad luck of the draw that did for us.”

Ireland showed two changes from the team that lost to Germany with Patrick Cregg of Arsenal coming into midfield and Ciaran Lyng of Wexford slotting in at left back. The team worked with a will and achieved a real balance in their work with Gerry Gill of Derry City again sparkling on the right wing.

In fact Ireland’s cause was not helped when Gill had to be withdrawn 11 minutes before full time when the injury he sustained against Germany again hindered him. His ability to tie down France’s powerful left back, Bellaid, and provide a good service was critical to Ireland’s cause for the big left back was one of France’s most influential players when they beat Slovenia.

France laid the groundwork for their victory in the opening half when they caused Ireland huge problems at set pieces. Twice they struck the woodwork and they scored after 30 minutes.

The goal came when Vincent put in a cross from the right wing after his shot had come back to him off an upright. Ireland’s Shane McFaul succeeded in heading the ball away under pressure from Allart but it fell to the feet of Lacourt and he showed excellent technique as he volleyed home, just as he had done against Slovenia.

Lacourt was always prominent for France and with their team captain Digard again in impressive form in the heart of midfield they showed plenty of variety in their approach play and the ability to penetrate through Vincent and Lacourt. Allart was also in lively form for them at centre forward but the Irish battled gamely even if they were lucky not to concede a second goal on the call of half time when goalkeeper Quigley mis-timed a free from Gourcuff on the left wing and the ball slipped through his hands to where Allart turned it against an upright. Ireland were a little unfortunate not to take the advantage of an opening goal after 17 minutes when Gill ran on to a weak clearance and fired a shot against the junction of the crossbar and upright. And their fiery comeback made for a thoroughly enjoyable second half.

Quigley distinguished himself when he smothered an attempt from Gourcuff in the 50th minute and Ireland failed to turn their best opportunity to account four minutes later. Gill again outstripped the French defence and his cross to the far post found Aiden McGeady of Celtic unmarked.

McGeady made a firm contact with his instep but found Jourdren in exactly the right position and he held the shot confidently to deny Ireland yet again. It was entirely in the nature of a splendid contest that France immediately broke at the other end and Vincent snapped a shot against the butt of the upright from where it ran across the goal line to safety.

So Ireland were left pointless after two matches but manager Kerr captured the mood of an enjoyable match when he said: “At times we more than matched them but they had a bit more around the pitch. They have an excellent side but we have to take encouragement from the way we stood up to them and carried the game to them in the second half.”

Tomorrow Ireland play Slovenia at Turner’s Cross and France play Germany at St. Colman’s Park, Cobh. Both games kick off at 7.30 pm

IRELAND: Quigley; Kelly, McFaul (Elebert 41), McShane, Lyng; Gill (Flynn 69), Cregg, O’Donnell, Foley Sheridan; McGeady, Best (Keogh 58).

FRANCE: Jourdren; Lescure, Barthe, Kaboul, Bellaid; Lavie,
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