13.05.2008 at 19:45 Mourneview Park
0 - 1
Ireland Under 23
Referee: Adrian McCourt (Dungannon)
Under 23 International Challenge Trophy-match
A late, late winner from Stephen Rice earned the Republic of Ireland an undeserved win at Mourneview Park to leave them needing only a point from their final match against Belgium in the Autumn to make the final of the International Challenge Trophy.
With time approaching the 92nd second minute on the watch, Shamrock Rovers midfielder Rice dived low to head home skipper Paul Keegan’s superb free-kick form the right.
Republic of Ireland senior team manager Giovanni Trapattoni was in attendance and, on a difficult surface, the Republic started reasonably well, carving out the first chance of the match on 18 minutes.
Shane Guthrie put Stephen Rice in behind down the inside right channel to cross and Northern Ireland keeper Dwayne Nelson made a brilliant diving save to push out Dave Mooney’s volley.
Within a minute the Republic had an amazing let-off at the other end when a mistake by Guthrie put Thomas Stewart through on goal.
Conor Kenna got back and somehow deflected Stewart’s shot onto the bar with David Scullion’s follow-up header coming off Conor Powell for a corner as the Republic somehow survived.
There was another scare for the Republic on the half hour when Thompson shot off a post after Kenna inadvertently knocked down Barry Holland’s cross to the Linfield striker.
Northern Ireland had a grip on the game now and Linfield midfielder Jamie Mulgrew cut across from the left to shoot narrowly wide from 30 yards.
The Republic continued to struggle into the second half and a super move involving Graig McClean and Thompson set up impressive right-back Barry Holland to drill a shot wide on 59 minutes.
Two minutes later Stewart got a sniff of goal 20 yards out, but his powerful shot was deflected out for a corner off Guthrie.
The Republic’s first real chance of the second half came on 88 minutes when substitute Denis Behan’s well-struck shot was straight at Nelson before Rice won it at the death.
Northern Ireland: Nelson (Dungannon Swifts); Holland (Cliftonville), Watson (Ballymena United), Lindsay (Linfield), McClean (Ballymena United); Mulgrew (Linfield), Ward (Glentoran), Clarke (Newry Town), Scullion (Glentoran); Thompson (Linfield), Stewart (Linfield).
Subs: Garrett (Newry City) for Scullion (57 mins.), McAllister (Dungannon Swifts) for Stewart (73 mins.).
Republic of Ireland: Murphy (Shamrock Rovers); O’Brien (Shamrock Rovers), Guthrie (Cobh Ramblers), Kenna (UCD), Powell (Bohemians); Kelly (Bohemians), Keegan (Drogheda United), Rice (Shamrock Rovers), Brennan (Bohemians); Quigley (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Mooney (Cork City).
Subs: Behan (Cork City) for Kelly (h/t), Rowe (Bray Wanderers) for Quigley (65 mins.), Murphy (Cork City) for Kenna (78 mins.)
Referee: Adrian McCourt (Dungannon).
Ian Bermingham (UCD) and Derek Pender (Bray Wanderers) have been called into the Republic of Ireland Under-23 squad for Tuesday night's International Challenge Trophy match against Northern Ireland at Mourneview Park in Lurgan (7.45pm)
Republic of Ireland manager Pat Fenlon called up the two players after three of the initial squad were forced to return to their clubs having failed to sufficiently recover from knocks.
Joseph O'Cearuill (St. Patrick's Athletic), Stephen O'Donnell (Bohemians) and Seamus Coleman (Sligo Rovers) all joined up with the squad on Sunday morning but were forced to withdraw with injuries.
Gavin Peers of Sligo Rovers had earlier been replaced in the squad by Cork City's Darren Murphy.
Peers did travel to Dublin to be assessed by the medical team but was not considered fit enough to take part in the squad.
The Republic of Ireland takes on Northern Ireland on Tuesday night in a match that could put Fenlon’s side top of the International Challenge Trophy Group Two.
Ireland opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Slovakia last November in Dalymount Park.
Northern Ireland’s only fixture in the series so far saw them suffer a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Belgium.
Belgium also played out a 1-1 draw with Slovakia in other group tie contested.