THE Irish U21 side ended one of their worst UEFA Championships campaigns with a frustrating 1-0 loss to Turkey in Kocaeli yesterday.
Caretaker boss Wim Koevermans was forced to field one of the youngest Irish teams to play at this level due to injuries and suspension.
Koevermans started with five players that played U19 football last season and all three substitutes introduced had also played at that level last term.
As the poor fortune continued for the Irish, Manchester United winger Robert Brady – still eligible for U19s this season – was forced off after 35 minutes.
The game was decided by an 81st minute goal by Turkish captain Tevfik Kose who slotted past Stephen Henderson following a flowing move.
Although the result left the Irish bottom of the table with just one victory in ten outings in their qualifying group, the performance was heartening.
Turkey looked in control early on and Kose forced the first save of the game from Irish keeper Henderson in the 23rd minute. Once they settled the Irish began to create chances and Adam Rooney got his head to a Daniel Kearns cross in the 43rd minute but headed just wide. Graham Carey had a similar opportunity from a Seamus Coleman cross in first half injury-time but once again failed to hit the target.
After the break the Irish pushed hard for the opener and Conor Hourihane came close in the 61st minute when he hit the post with a long range effort. Keeper Ozkan Karabulut then kept out a Rooney header from another cross by Kearns as the Irish looked set to claim their first competitive away win since August 2006.
Coleman had a chance to level after Kose’s opener following an injury-time corner but the home defence cleared.
TURKEY: Karabulut; Kurtulus (Boz 72), Cek, Kesimal, Basdas, Tekdemir, Uysal, Kaplan (Gurler 66), Kose, Colak (Arslan 46), Aygunes.
REP OF IRELAND: Henderson; Coleman, Moloney, Kiernan (McEleney 58), Conneely, Towell, Hourihane, Clifford (Mason 78), Rooney, Brady (Kearns 35), Carey.
Referee: A Stavrev (Macedonia).
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