PAUL DOOLIN'S Republic of Ireland U19 side beat the Czech Republic in an entertaining friendly international at Flancare Park, Longford, tonight.
The Irish impressed in the first half and could have taken the lead in the fourth minute when Mikey Drennan forced a top class save from Czech keeper Josef ┼śeh├ík with a long range free-kick.
Ryan Coombes should have broken the deadlock in the 11th minute when he connected with a right wing cross by Kenny McEvoy but he volleyed over the bar from close range.
St Patrick's Athletic midfielder Coombes opened the scoring in the 27th minute when forced the ball home from six-yards out after connecting with a low cross by Paul George from the left.
Drennan had another shot saved by ┼śeh├ík in the 39th minute as the Irish pressed for a second and 60 seconds later they did extend their lead when Coombes fed Drennan and his brilliant cross was headed home by McEvoy at the back post.
The Czechs found their rhythm after the break and Ireland's defence was very impressive with Tommie Hoban and Steve Smith solid at centre-back with keeper Lawlor also excelling.
Ireland suffered a blow when the visitors pulled one back in the 52nd minute. Smith was penalised for a challenge in the box and although Franti┼íek Li┼íka's spot-kick was saved by Lawlor, Li┼íka forced home the rebound.
Lawlor produced another impressive save in injury-time to keep out a volley by Petr Nerad after a scramble following a Czech corner.
The two sides will meet again in another friendly at Athlone Town Stadium on Thursday, February 7 (7.30pm).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Ian Lawlor; Ryan McConnell, Shane Griffin, Thomas Hoban, Steven Smith, Kealan Dillon, Kenneth McEvoy, Darragh Lenihan, Ryan Coombes, Paul George, Michael Drennan. SUBS: Luke Gallagher for Dillon 56 mins; Sean Maguire for Coombes 56; Brandon Meile for Lenihan 64; Sam Byrne for George 64.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Josef ┼śeh├ík; Stefan Simi─Ź, Jan Filip, Petr Nerad, Jan Shejbal, Ale┼í ─îerm├ík, Michal Tr├ívn├şk, Franti┼íek Li┼íka, Mat─Ťj H├Żbl, Old┼Öich Byrtus, Jan ┼át─Ťrba. SUBS: Roman Wermke for Byrtus 46, Ond┼Öej Karafi├ít for Simi─Ź 46; Dominik Ma┼íek for Tr├ívn├şk 68; V├íclav Jure─Źka for Li┼íka 68; Petr ┼áev─Źik for Shejbal 82.
REFEREE: Ray Matthews.
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