Ireland U21s beaten by late Turkish strike

Ireland U21s beaten by late Turkish strike

Turkey U21 1 Republic of Ireland U21 0

Wim Koevermans’ side could not end their disappointing European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign with a win as the Republic of Ireland were condemned to the wooden spoon.

A narrow 1-0 defeat in Turkey saw the Republic end their Group Two fixtures at the bottom of the heap and with just one victory to their name in 10 attempts.

As so often during the campaign, they might have emerged with much more to show for their efforts, but were ultimately made to pay for not taking their chances.

Stand-in boss Koevermans went into the game having lost an entire team to injury and suspension, and his side reflected those difficulties with five of the starters and six of the substitutes still eligible to turn out for the under-19s.

Brendan Moloney, Seamus Conneely, Graham Carey and Adam Rooney were all drafted into the team, but Ireland were forced into further changes with less than an hour played as Robbie Brady and Rob Kiernan succumbed to injury.

The visitors started on the front foot, but without ever troubling Turkish keeper Ozkan Karabulut, and opposite number Stephen Henderson had to make the game’s first real save when he raced from his line to block Tevfik Kose’s shot after he had exchanged passes with full-back Ozgur Cek.

Ireland created several openings of their own before the break, but once again were unable to convert them with Rooney and Carey missing the target.

But Conor Hourihane went within inches of breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark when his shot came back off the post and dropped wide.

The Republic were piling on the pressure and Rooney and Hourihane both went close as the game approached its closing stages.

However, it was Turkey who took the lead nine minutes from time when Kose was picked out 12 yards from goal, and he shot past the despairing Henderson to claim victory.

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman might have snatched a draw at the death, but his header from a corner was scrambled away.

The win saw the Turks claim second place in the group behind winners Switzerland, while the Irish finished five points adrift of fifth-placed Estonia, the only side they beat.

Turkey: Ozan Karabulut, Serkan Kurtulus (Mahmut Boz, 70 mins.), Ozgur Cek, Serdar Kesimal, Mahmut Tekdemir, Baris Basdas, Necip Uysal, Burak Kaplan (Serdar Gurler, 63 mins.), Tevfik Jose – Capt., Emre Colak (Tolgay Ali Arslan, h/t), Sahin Aygunes

Substitutes not used: Ertac Ozbir, Serdar Eylik, Hasan Ali Kaldirim, Burak Calik

Republic of Ireland: Stephen Henderson, Seamus Coleman – Capt. – Brendan Moloney, Robert Kiernan (Shane McEleney, 55 mins), Seamus Conneely, Richie Towell, Conor Hourihane, Conor Clifford (Joe Mason, 75 mins.), Adam Rooney, Robbie Brady (Daniel Kearns, 35 mins), Graham Carey

Substitutes not used: Shane Redmond, Karl Sheppard, Paddy Madden

Referee: Alexander Stavrev (MKD)

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