Ireland U19 held by Ukraine
Republic of Ireland Under-19 0 - 0 Ukraine Under-19
The Republic of Ireland Under-19s played out a scoreless draw against Ukraine at Morton Stadium on Monday night in their first game of the season.
Ukraine had form behind them as they finished third at the UEFA Under-17 Championships just over a year ago and have played a number of friendly matches already this term.
Ireland, in contrast, were tasting their first action of the season as they step up preparations for the UEFA Under-19 qualification campaign which gets underway with the preliminary phase in Bulgaria from October 7-12 when the Irish meet Serbia, Luxembourg and the mini-group hosts aiming to take one of the two qualifying berths into next year's elite stage.
After this productive work-out, Ireland boss Sean McCaffrey will get another chance to oversee his squad on Wednesday at Frank Cooke Park in the second match of double-header between the nations (1pm).
It was clear from the outset that the visitors held the upperhand in physique and looked to make their presence count from set-pieces.
On five minutes, Pylyp Budkivsky was in the right place to connect with a free-kick but could only send his header wide of the target.
That would set the tone for the first 45 minutes as the Irish were on the back foot for the majority against their visitors and only had a half-volley from captain Robbie Brady which was easily saved to show on the chances count in the first half.
In contrast, Irish goalkeeper Sean McDermott had to be on his toes to go in at the break without his goal being breached, especially on 35 minutes when the most impressive player on the night, Ukraine's Vladislav Calitvintsev, smashed a shot from 35 yards that rebounded off the crossbar.
Five minutes earlier, the stylish striker left two defenders trailing in his wake inside the Irish half only to drill a shot from the edge of the box wide of McDermott's post.
It was much the same during the early exchanges of the second period with Ireland forced to defend resolutely.
Calitvintsev was inches wide from another thunderbolt on 55 minutes and he squandered the best opening of the night 20 minutes later by blasting over the crossbar from six yards.
Sean McCaffrey's Irish side fought back in the latter stages and carved out a string of opportunities. Sunderland defender John Egan couldn't get a proper connection to Brady's corner ten minutes from time and debutant Declan Walker forced a superb save from Galchuk with a 30-yard free kick three minutes later.
Shamrock Rovers teen Craig Walsh also came close to finding the breakthrough five minutes from the end. His speculative lofted effort from the right touchline required the Ukraine ‘keeper to back-peddle and tip the effort onto the crossbar.
Oleksandr Noiok might have nicked it in stoppage time but Ireland goalkeeper Aaron McCarey, having replaced McDermott at the interval, stood firm to stop the defender's header from point blank range.
Republic of Ireland U-19: McDermott (Arsenal); Walker (Wrexham), Egan (Sunderland), O'Connor (Blackburn Rovers), McGinty (Manchester United); Horgan (Salthill Devon), Byrne (Leicester City), Irwin (Bolton Wanderers), McDonnell (Dundalk); McEleney (Derry City), Brady (Manchester United),
Subs: Rafter (Colchester United) for Horgan, Walsh (Shamrock Rovers) for Byrne, McCarey (Wolves) for McDermott (all h/t), Hendrick (Derby County) for Iwrin (65 mins), Osbourne (Drogheda United) for McGinty (73 mins), Connolly (Derby County) for McEleney (82 mins)
Ukraine U-19: Galchuk, Ordets, Noiok, Karavaev, Shabanov, Churko, Calitvintsev, Dolhiy, Budkivskiy, Babenko.
Subs: Denchuk, Koval, Nasonov, Mochulenko, Ryabusthko.
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).