UEFA Under-21 qualifier
Terryland Park, Galway
Republic of Ireland 1-1 Montenegro
The Republic of Ireland Under-21s had to settle for a draw against Montenegro at Terryland Park on Tuesday in the UEFA Under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign.
Despite creating enough chances to win the match, the young Irish side had to be content with just one point from the match, thanks to Andy Keogh’s 70th minute equaliser.
Newly appointed Republic of Ireland senior team Assistant manager Liam Brady was present to watch Ireland contest their last home game of the qualifying series in front a good turnout at Terryland.
It was Keogh who had the first chance for Ireland on 11 minutes. The Wolves striker – who scored a double for his club at the weekend – made space for himself on the right of the penalty area but his shot rocketed narrowly over the crossbar.
The visitors almost broke the deadlock on 17 minutes, Ivan Delic’s powerful shot cannoning off the post. Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson did brilliantly to clear the rebound with opposing attackers closing in.
A minute later, it was Ireland who almost found the back of the net, but Billy Clarke could only steer his close range header into the side-netting.
Half-time saw the introduction of Crystal Palace youngster Sean Scannell for his Ireland Under-21 debut. The 17-year-old instantly livened-up proceedings, injecting pace and flair into the Irish attack.
Ireland applied pressure to the visiting defence early in the second half and a series of corner kicks had the Montenegrin backline under pressure.
However, when the deadlock finally was broken it was by the visitors. Marko Cetkovic floated in a 65th minute corner kick and Goran Vujovic rose highest to powerfully head home.
Ireland were not behind for long, however. On 70 minutes, Conor Powell crossed into the Montenegrin penalty area and Andy Keogh steered the ball into the net for his fifth goal at Under-21 level.
Anthony Stokes came close to giving Ireland the lead on 77 minutes, but his shot from just inside the box went the wrong side of the post.
Ireland did have the ball in the net two minutes later but Andy Keogh was judged to have been offside when receiving Leon Best’s through ball.
After the match, Ireland manager Don Givens said that he was disappointed not to take all three points, saying that the game summed-up the qualifying campaign.
“We’re disappointed”, he said. “We played Montenegro twice, losing once and drawing once, whereas really we could have won both games. In many ways, tonight’s match sums up the qualifying campaign. We have played well but we haven’t got the win.”
Republic of Ireland: Supple; Nolan, O’Cearuill, O’Dea, Powell; Gibson, O’Toole (Best, 60 mins), Stokes, Clarke (Scannel, h/t), Quinn, Keogh
Substitutes not used: Gleeson, Coleman, Kelly, Henderson, Dennehy
Montenegro: Janusevic, Zverotic, Bojovic, Novakovic, Lakicevic, Boskovic (Vukcevic, 75 mins), Markovic, Delic (Brnovic, 85 mins), Cetkovic, Stjepanovic, Vujovic
Substitutes not used: Mihailo, Tomic, Igumanovic, Kaluderovic, Spasojevic.