REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0 SLOVENIA 1
The Republic of Ireland U19 team lost the opening game of their UEFA European U19 Championship campaign this afternoon at Eamon Deacy Park, Galway, despite dominating the game and creating the bulk of the chances.
Slovenia scored from their only shot on target after 32 minutes by Mika Mario Rokavec and then held through intense pressure to record a famous victory which was celebrated with gusto at the end.
“The first half was even but I thought we were outstanding in the second half, to play the way we did against the breeze and to create the chances we did,” said Ireland Head Coach Paul Doolin. “We are disappointed but if we can continue to perform like we did today we should get results. We are not out it but we will probably need to win the next two games starting with Latvia on Sunday.”
Doolin named a team that contained five players from SSE Airtricity League clubs and they started brightly, forcing four corners early on as they sought to take advantage of the strong wind. However, they didn’t trouble the Slovenian goalkeeper until the 21st minute when Frankie Mulhern headed against the crossbar following a free-kick by Graham Kelly that was put back into the danger area by Danny Kane. Kane injured himself in that incident and although he played on for another few minutes he was eventually replaced by Dan Casey.
Slovenia took the lead against the run of play after 32 minutes when Ireland lost possession in midfield and a quick counter-attack saw Andraz Mrkonja slip in Mika Mario Rokavec to drill a low shot to the far corner past James Talbot.
Ireland almost equalised three minute later when Mulhern met Shodipo’s cross but his effort was just past the post.
Doolin’s team talk at half-time certainly had the desired effect as Ireland dominated the second half but despite creating a number of chances they couldn’t find a way past the Slovenian goalkeeper Rok Vodisek. The keeper went full stretch after 61 minutes to keep out Mulhern’s header and eight minutes later did even better to turn a piledriver from Ethan Boyle around the post.
Substitute Connor Ronan weaved his way into the box with a mazy run and a slick one-two created a great chance but his shot screamed past the post and then Shodipo, under pressure from two defenders, blasted over from six yards.
Mulhern finally got the ball in the back of the net but the effort was disallowed for a foul on the keeper and deep into injury time Ireland saw a volley from Graham Kelly go the wrong side of the post while appeals for a penalty, when Shodipo was pushed jumping for the ball, were dismissed by the Finnish referee in the final seconds.
Scotland beat Latvia 2-0 in the group’s other game in Limerick so Ireland must beat Latvia on Sunday in Galway to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the Elite Phase for the sixth successive season.
Republic of Ireland: James Talbot; Colm Deasy, Danny Kane (Dan Casey 27), Ryan Sweeney, Stephen Best; George Poynton, Ethan Boyle, Dylan Watts (Connor Ronan 71); Olamide Shodipo, Frankie Mulhern, Graham Kelly.
Friday, November 13
Scotland 2 Latvia 0
Republic of Ireland 0 Slovenia 1
Sunday, November 15
Slovenia v Scotland, Markets Field, Limerick (2.30pm)
Republic of Ireland v Latvia, Eamon Deacy Park, Galway (7.30pm)
Wednesday, November 18
Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Markets Field, Limerick (3.30pm)
Latvia v Slovenia, Eamon Deacy Park, Galway (3.30pm)