More Euro heartbreak as ref call costly for Ireland

Twelve months after an injustice undid them at the Euro U17 finals, Ireland were again left fuming by a refereeing decision in the tournament.

More Euro heartbreak as ref call costly for Ireland

Twelve months after an injustice undid them at the Euro U17 finals, Ireland were again left fuming by a refereeing decision in the tournament.

A goal ahead against Greece through Matt Everitt and cruising towards an early lead in Group A, the Irish were left stunned at conceding an equaliser in the fifth and final minutes of stoppage time.

Danish referee Jorgen Burchardt was the man under the spotlight this year at Tallaght Stadium, watching his assistant raise his flag for offside when Dimitris Arsenidis swept the ball home for the leveller.

He also didn’t bat an eyelid when that flag came back down, supporting his colleague’s decision to change his mind on reflection.

That alteration came after it was adjudged Ireland full-back Sean McEvoy had played the ball into the path of the substitute only on the pitch eight minutes.

Ireland manager Colin O’Brien led the protests as the Greeks celebrated wildly in front of the main stand where most of the 4,265 fans were housed. It put a dampener on an otherwise upbeat night for Irish football, one much needed after six weeks of torment off the pitch due to mismanagement in the FAI being exposed.

Rea Walshe, the interim chief executive, rose to her feet late on when goalscorer Everitt was substituted, but minutes later the applause turned to boos.

“By all accounts, the player was in an offside position when it dropped into the box,” explained Cork native O’Brien afterwards.

“If it bounced off our player and into their lad’s path, it might be different. If the action is deliberate the player in an offside position is live and in play. That’s that.”

With the other game in the group, Belgium and Czech Republic also finishing 1-1, Ireland spurned the opportunity to take an early initiative.

He was trying not to get too despondent heading into Monday’s next game against the Czechs in Waterford.

“I think we deserved to win the game,” he lamented.

“We were excellent for 35 minutes, felt we could have been a goal up by half-time. We had the two best opportunities of the first half.

Greece had a spell at the end of the first half but I thought we defended brilliantly. You could see nerves for both teams in the second half and we got the goal we deserved.

That breakthrough arrived through Brighton attacker Everitt on 58 minutes. A deep corner by Shamrock Rovers first-teamer James Furlong was nodded back by Timi Sobowale for Conor Carty. There to finish off the move at the second attempt was Everitt.

As O’Brien said, Ireland were worthy of that lead against an extremely limited side who gave Gavin Bazunu little to do until that final skirmish. It was no surprise to learn that the Greeks nudged into the finals by winning just one of their three elite group matches, getting into the expanded finals in third place.

Early on, backed by a large crowd including Ireland assistant coach Terry Connor, Ireland were by far the superior side. Charlie McCann lashed over a half-volley and Festy Ebosele whistled an effort wide. Sobowale should have done better with a volley at the back post after evading his marker from Ebosele’s free-kick delivery.

Joe Hodge, the Manchester City midfielder who has played for both Ireland and England this season, came close to forging the opening by volleying wide close to the interval but early pressure in the second half yielded the breakthrough. Unfortunately, Hodge then conceded the free in stoppage time which led to the leveller.

IRELAND:

G Bazunu; S McEvoy, T Sobowale, A Omobamidele (A Garcia McNulty 66), J Furlong; J Hodge, S Keogh; M Everitt (S Kennedy 90), C McCann (R McKinley 80), F Ebsoele; C Carty.

GREECE:

K Tzolakis; A Tsavos, P Panagiotou (K Aslanidis 88), V Pavlidis, A Aventisian; T Karamperis, A Siatounis (C Liatsos 68); V Sourlis (C Belevonis 85), V Grosdis (D Arsenidis 86), G Karakoutis (N Kotopoulos 73); C Tzolis.

Referee:

J Burchardt (DEN) Attendance: 4265

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