Extracted from Cork roots, Matt Everitt is a determined sort and so views tonight’s meeting with Czech Republic as an opportune time to right a wrong from Friday’s Euro U17s finals injustice.
The Brighton and Hove Albion attacker’s goal for Colin O’Brien’s side against Greece in front of 4,500 fans at Tallaght Stadium should have sealed an opening-night three points and an early Group A lead. Instead, a controversial offside decision at the death cost them dearly when Dimitris Arsenidis swept the ball home from close range.
Unlike his manager, Brighton’s Everitt didn’t hold back in dishing out blame for the concession of two points.
All that matters to Everitt is that Greek substitute Arsenidis should have been penalised well before he pounced as the Irish defence saw the flag raised.
“Their player was in an offside position when the ball was passed in,” said the 16-year-old.
“I had just been taken off and, from my view on the bench, the pass was given intentionally, so that should have been an offside decision.
“I’m gutted with the call because it meant the draw feels like to defeat.”
Everitt wasn’t the only one of the family angered by the late setback.
His parents, cousins and Cork-born grandmother were among the crowd, all following his international career since his debut against Norway two years ago.
“FAI scouts first saw me playing for Brighton at the Hibernia Cup tournament hosted by Dublin club St Joseph’s Boys,” explained the English-born winger.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute playing for Ireland and love to make my family proud.”
Tournament ambassador John O’Shea, a day after retiring, will be back on home soil for tonight’s game. Also due to be in attendance is senior manager Mick McCarthy.
The Czechs have travelled to Dublin without their standout player, Adam Hlozek.
Only six weeks ago, the Sparta Prague midfielder became the youngest-ever player to score in a top-flight domestic game.
They were managing fine without him in Friday’s opener against Belgium.
Last year’s semi-finalists needed a stoppage-time equaliser to deny the Czechs in a 1-1 draw.
Two of the four nations from the pool progress to the quarter-finals at the weekend, heightening the need for an Irish win tonight.
They conclude their group by hosting Belgium at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday.
“All of the teams have a point each, so we’re all starting again,” said Everitt. “With another large turnout behind us in Waterford, I’m confident we can get that win.”
O’Brien now has a major selection dilemma to face.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran is available after serving his one-match suspension carried over from last year’s controversial sending off against Holland in the quarter-final.
However, his replacement Gavin Bazunu hardly put a foot wrong against the Greeks and the Manchester City stopper was helpless to prevent the last-gasp equaliser.