Ireland U21s left with work to do after defeat to Romania
Martin Madalin’s second-half strike at the Showgrounds enough for the visitors
Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien dejected after the final whistle at the Showgrounds. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Rep of Ireland U21 0 Romania U21 1: A narrow defeat at the Showgrounds on Tuesday afternoon left Ireland’s under-21s with little margin for error to redeem their dream of reaching the European finals.
Ireland, led by interim boss Harry McCue, spurned the chance of leapfrogging the second seeded nation in their group.
A wonder-strike by Martin Madalin nine minutes into the second half ensured Romania claimed four points in as many days off Ireland.
Samir Carruthers, back in the side after missing Friday’s scoreless draw in the away fixture, was dispossessed midway into his half and Madalin advanced to bury his 35-yard strike into the top corner of Aaron McCarey’s net.
Sustained pressure in the closing stages failed to yield Ireland a deserved equaliser, with captain Shane Duffy and debutant Will Hayhurst the most culpable of wasting clearcut chances.
Romania’s resurgence means it’s not only the emerging force of Montenegro they’ve to usurp to become the first under-21 squad claiming second place and a play-off into the European Championships which takes place in 2015.
McCue admits a maximum six points is the requirement from next month’s double-header against the Faroe Islands and Montenegro.
“We’ve it all to do after these two results against Romania,” he said. “Man for man, we weren’t good enough today and the sloppy goal summed it a bad day for us. The players know they’re well capable of improvements and they’ll expect to bounce back in the two next games. Draws won’t be much use now; it’s all about winning as many in the second half of the campaign.”
Much the better team in the first half, Ireland thought they’d forged ahead on 20 minutes through Sean McGinty’s header that rattled the net.
Rather harshly, Aiden O’Brien was adjudged to have been in an offside position despite not touching the ball on it’s way in.
Republic of Ireland: Aaron McCarey, Anthony O’Connor, Sean McGinty, Derrick Williams, Shane Duffy (C), Samir Carruthers, Connor Smith (Callum Reilly 79), Aiden O’Brien (Graham Burke 68), Sean Murray, Anthony Forde, Frankie Sutherland (William Hayhurst 70).
Romania: Laurentiu Branescu, Claudiu Belu, Alexandru Cretu, Alin Tosca, Adrian Avramia, Alexandru Dan, Martin Madalin (Claudiu Bumba 56), Alin Cârstocea (Romario Benzar 71), Andrei Ciolacu (Alexandru Ionita 87), Mihai Roman, Stefan Popescu.
Referee: M Kalkavan (TUR)