Late brace condemns U18s to defeat


U18 Jezek International Tournament
Czech Republic U18   2-0   Republic of Ireland U18



The Republic of Ireland Under-18s conceded two late goals against hosts Czech Republic on Tuesday in the opening game of the six-nation Jezek International Tournament.



Ireland manager Sean McCaffrey handed international debuts to Ryan McLaughlin and David Lynch, with the pair impressive during an opening 45 minutes that saw his side carve out a number of goalscoring chances.



Daniel Purdy and George Smith both went close while defender Neil Byrne saw his header drop just over the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.



Ireland goalkeeper Alan Smith was required to make just the one save in the first half and he was much the quieter of the custodians again as the second half developed.



Another chance was spurned when Aidan O'Brien forced a stop and, for all their neat approach work, the lack of end product in the final third was bound to bite them.



And so that was the case seven minutes from time when the Czechs were awarded a highly contentious penalty kick, even though the foul looked to have taken place well outside the area.



Martin Hurka stepped up to convert the spot-kick past Smith and leave the Irish chasing an equaliser in the dying minutes.



As it transpired, an uncharacteristic mistake at the back by Ireland gifted their opponents a second goal in the last of three stoppage-time minutes as David Houska pounced to make it 2-0.



"The lads certainly didn't deserve to lose the match," said McCaffrey afterwards. "The purpose of the matches this week is assessing the players for next season's Under-19 campaign rather than results and from that perspective I was more than happy with the performance.



"For a few different reasons, we are without probably seven of our likely starting team this week and the lads that came in were excellent.



"I think Michael Keane of Manchester United had his best game in an Irish jersey so far while his opposite full-back Ryan McLaughlin was superb on his debut at left-full."



All seven substitutes from the game will be given starting places by McCaffrey for Thursday's meeting with Ukraine (4pm, Irish time)



Saturday will see the Irish play a third game against one of the nations from the other group that contains Turkey, Slovakia and Hungary.



Republic of Ireland U18: Alan Smith (Glasgow Rangers): Michael Barker (Belvedere), Michael Keane (Manchester United), Neil Byrne (Notts Forest), Ryan McLaughlin (UCD); Frankie Sutherland (Queens Park Rangers), George Smith (Southend United), David Lynch (Burnley), Kevin Knight (Leicester City); Daniel Purdy (West Ham United), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall).
Subs: John Mountney (Ballina Town) for Smith (h/t), John O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers) for Mountney (55 mins - inj), Joe Rafferty (Liverpool) for Sutherland (75 mins), Conor Smith (Watford) for O'Brien (80 mins).


Jezek Under-18 International Tournament Result and Fixtures:

Tuesday August 24
Czech Republic 2-0 Republic of Ireland

Thursday August 26 (5pm, local time)
Republic of Ireland v Ukraine

Saturday August 26 (11am, local time)
Republic of Ireland v Turkey/Hungary/Slovakia.

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