Ireland have finished fourth in the annual Fifpro tournament for out-of-contract players in Oslo after losing their play-off game against Sweden 3-2 on penalties.
Liam O'Brien's side started the day brightly when they took an early lead against Finland in their opening match with Marc Griffin and Dean Kelly involved in a move that was ended with Don Cowan sending in a cross that defender Johann Brunell turned into his own goal.
The Finns, who included three former internationals in their side, battled back, though, and levelled though Patrick Poutiainen before going on to dominate the second half. Ten minutes from time Tiarnan Mulvenna almost grabbed a winner for the Irish but his looping effort came back off the crossbar and Robert Bayly's follow up header was stopped by a defender. The Finns then broke and after some initial heroics by young goalkeeper Joe Coll Roope Riski scored the winner.
The team's second game of the day - a third/fourth place playoff against Sweden - ended scoreless and the Irish were then edged on out on penalties. Kelly and Keith Quinn scored theirs but Gary Dunphy's effort was saved allowing the Swedes to clinch a narrow victory.
“The Finns were probably the best side that I’ve seen in four years coming here, I mean their guy who got Player of the Tournament had played in Serie A, but we did very well against them and were just a little bit unfortunate that the chance to win it came back off the woodwork,” said PFAI General Secretary Stephen McGuinness afterwards.
"Our lads acquitted themselves very well over the two games; Conor Powell, Dean Kelly, Glenn Cronin, Robert Bayly and Don Cowan in the first game were all excellent but the players have voted for Joe Coll as the Irish player of the tournament and it's well deserved, he did fantastically well. It beggars belief how a guy like that could end up back playing local football in Donegal but I have no doubt that he'll get something in the league for the coming season."