The Republic of Ireland Under 17 side finished their UEFA Championships Elite Qualifying Round fixtures with a 2-2 draw with Georgia in Belgrade.
Tom Mohan’s side exit the tournament pleased to pick up a point after unfortunate defeats against Serbia and Germany, but disappointed not to return with all three points from this fixture.
Ireland led 2-0 with five minutes left but in the testing 27C heat they were caught by two late Georgian strikes and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Nathan Corkery had headed Ireland in front in the 23rd minute when he got his head to a Tom Holland corner.
Georgians keeper Beka Kurdadze did well to keep out an effort from Irish skipper Georgie Poynton inn the 43rd minute.
Irish keeper Matthew Connor had to be sharp to keep out an effort from Bela Mikeltadze in the 53rd minute but it was the Irish who looked to have taken control and produced extended spells of impressive play.
Mohan’s side looked to have sealed the victory in the 75th minute when Shelbourne’s Adam McDonnell produced a stunning strike from 25-yards to fire home after good work by Holland, Anto Breslin and Conor Masterson in the build-up.
Unfortunately for the Irish, Georgia pulled one back just two minutes later when Giorgi Kiknadze smashed home from distance and then two minutes into injury-time the game was levelled when Irakli Kamladze finished off a counter-attack by slipping the ball under the advancing Connor.
“The result probably sums up the week for us"
Shane Elworthy was unfortunate not to snatch a dramatic winner for Ireland less than a minute later but keeper Kurdadze made a block and the ball was cleared to safety.
“The result probably sums up the week for us because the players definitely deserved to win the game. The first half display was brilliant - they played really well and created numerous chances,” said Mohan.
“We should have won a penalty in the first half but decisions have not gone our way this week. When we got the second half goal from Adam McDonnell it looked like we might get the result we deserved.
“Unfortunately the heat got to us and the boys wilted. It wasn’t a lack of effort, can’t blame them for the work they put in.
“Despite that we had a shot cleared off the line deep into injury-time. That’s life. The boys put in a very good performance against a good Georgia side. They’re a country producing good players.”
Serbia drew with Germany in the other game in Group Six. The Germans will top the group to progress to the final in Malta and Mohan believes his side showed up well in a very testing group.
“It was a very difficult group overall but the injustice of the first night was the most difficult thing to take this week,” he said.
“The boys played really well. It’s been a hell of an experience for them. They’ve witnessed the cruelty of the game but they can be proud of they performed.
“It’s been a tough week but I could have asked more from the players and staff who all worked extremely hard.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Connor, Breslin, Kane, Holland, Best, McDonnell, Elworthy, Poynton (c), Kinsella (Masterson 54), Corkery (Dolan 57), Devers.
GEORGIA: Kurdadze; Kobuladze, Kakiashvili, Nadaraia, Goshteliani, Beridze (Gaprindashvili 64), Jobava, Arabidze (Kiknadze 41), Mikeltadze (Murjikneli 76), Tvaradze, Kamladze.
Serbia 2-1 Republic of Ireland
Germany 3-0 Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland 2-2 Georgia