Sean McCaffrey’s Irish side produced a valiant second half comeback to snatch a draw against Germany at Terryland Park in their opening UEFA Elite stage qualifying tie.
Ireland conceded a goal after eight minutes but stuck to their task and were full value for a draw on a night when they caused the German defence numerous problems with their pace in attack.
Marcos Alvarez set up the opener with an enterprising run down past Mark Connolly down the left wing. He picked out Felix Kroos in the middle and the shot by Germany’s top scorer took a deflection off Gavin Gunning to leave goalkeeper Ger Hanley wrong-footed.
Paul Murphy came closest to providing an equaliser for the Irish in the first half with a low shot that whistled wide from 20 yards.
Germany were reduced to ten men six minutes after the restart when Alvarez collected his second booking for a foul on Aaron Doran.
Ireland began to click into gear shortly past the hour mark when Doran and substitute Robert Brady combined well on the left flank. Brady cut the ball across the edge of the the box for the onrushing Conor Hourihane whose shot lacked the power to trouble Bjoern Bussman in the German goal.
Doran then picked out Greg Cunningham on 66 minutes with an expert delivery from the right wing but the Manchester City youth headed wide after rising above his marker.
Galway native Cunningham had better fortune a minute later as he shrugged off the attentions of Marc Hornschuh inside the penalty area before keeping his balance to tuck a shot low into the net past the advancing ‘keeper.
It was no more than Ireland deserved after a concerted spell of pressure and they took the initiative for the remainder of the match.
Aaron Doran almost snatched the winner following a raiding run into the box which ended with his shot stinging the hands of Bussman who was forced to push the ball around the post for a corner.
IRELAND: Hanley (Salthill Devon), Dunleavy (Wolves), Timmons (Birmingham), Gunning (Blackburn), Connolly (Wolves), Morrissey (Ringmahon), Doran (Blackburn), Clifford (Chelsea), Satelle (Crumlin), Murphy (Ipswich), Cunningham (Manchester City).
Substitutes: Robert Brady (Manchester United) for Satelle (35 mins), Conor Hourihane (Sunderland) for Timmons (51 mins), John Sullivan (Crumlin United) for Clifford (76 mins)
GERMANY: Bussman, Becker, Alvarez, Hornschuh, Basturk, Kroos (Zellner 63), Hartmann, Gulde, Cincotta (Fardi 31), Herman (Horber 68), Stiepermann.