The Republic of Ireland Under-16s suffered defeat in their opening match of the Victory Shield as Northern Ireland scored two late goals to seal a 3-1 win in Kerry.
All of the goals came after the break as Ross McCausland gave the away side the lead before Oliver O'Neill responded a minute later. As Ireland pushed forward for the win, Ciaran McGuckin scored five minutes from time before Sean Stewart's stoppage-time strike for Northern Ireland.
Paul Osam's side were dominant throughout the first 45 minutes and were unfortunate to go in at the break level. Just past the quarter-of-an-hour mark, the nimble Lee Harkin found space on the right to cross for the onrushing O'Neill, but he directed his shot over the bar.
St. Patrick's Athletic midfielder Ben McCormack was at the centre of everything good for Ireland and almost opened the scoring in the 26th minute. McCormack found space 40 yards out before evading two Northern Irish defenders but fired his shot against the post from just outside the area.
Ireland continued to create chances as West Bromwich Albion striker Louie Barry saw a long-range effort palmed away in the 32nd minute in front of over 500 supporters at Mounthawk Park.
Northern Ireland grew into the game in the early stages of the second-half and went ahead in the 62nd minute. After neat-play down the right, Ross McCausland turned and fired in from just outside the area.
A minute later, Ireland responded. Substitute Billy Vance crossed for O'Neill and after the defender failed to clear, the Fulham man smashed the ball home.
The game opened up after that two-minute spell and spurred on by the Mounthawk crowd, Ireland pressed forward in search of a winner. But as the home side pushed forward, Northern Ireland found the net five minutes from time.
A brilliant counter-attack ended as McGuckin's shot nestled into the bottom right-hand corner and in stoppage time, Northern Ireland ended a third as Stewart's strike found the near-post corner.
Ireland face Wales on Wednesday at Mounthawk Park in their second match of the Victory Shield after their opening game defeat.
"We're disappointed with the defeat but I didn't think we deserved to win the game," said U16 Head Coach Paul Osam.
"We had a number of chances in the first-half which we didn't take but they were the better side in the second-half. After our goal, we had a good spell but it was very disappointing to see their second goal come from our free-kick. These are things the boys will learn and with a bit of organisation, we can eradicate.
"We've got to take where we didn't do well in the game into training tomorrow ahead of the game against Wales on Wednesday."
Republic of Ireland: Josh Keely (GK), Gavin O'Brien (C), Ronan Kilkenny (Colin Conroy 70), Oisin Hand, CJ Egan-Reilly, Ben McCormack, Louie Barry, Adam Wells, Oliver O'Neill (Sinclair Armstrong 70), Oran Crowe (Kallin Barlow 52), Lee Harkin (Billy Vance 52).
Northern Ireland: Connor Byrne (GK), Sean Stewart, Aaron Donnelly, Lewis McKinnon, Orrin McLaughlin, Conor Bradley (C), Charlie Allen, Dale Taylor (Ciaran McGuckin 70), Euen Williams (Caolan McBride 62), Ross McCausland, Vicky Saldanmo (Sean McAllister 70).
Referee: Derek O'Shea.