Israel edged out the Republic of Ireland U-16 team 1-0 at the Municipal Stadium of Hertzliya, just outside Tel Aviv today.
The game opened brightly with chances for both teams. Irish goalkeeper Kevin O’Brien had to be alert to save at his near post after a cross was turned goalwards by the Israeli striker after just ten minutes.
After a good move down the left wing, Ian Daly’s pull-back was just behind strike partner Kurtis Byrne.
After 28 minutes the Israeli striker Schahar Balilti made a good run through the Irish defence, but O’Brien saved his shot comfortably.
The deadlock was almost broken two minutes later. After good work on the right from Gareth Matthews and Shane O’Connor, the cross into the box struck an Israeli defender and the ball just made it the wrong side of the post and into the side-netting.
The Republic kept the pressure on the Israelis for the rest of the half, but were unable to find a way through. Shane O’Connor, Joe Collins and James O’Brien all had shots blocked down.
There was early pressure on the Irish defence in the second half. An attempted volley was missed and O’Brien was alert to claim crosses into the box and save from a free-kick 8 minutes into the half.
Two minutes later Conor McCormack, who scored from a similar distance in the first game, saw his shot go over the bar.
The deadlock was broken after 57 minutes. Asaf Giladi broke into the box from the right wing, and his cross looped over O’Brien and went in off the far post.
The Irish almost got back on terms straight away, but Shane O’Connor’s shot was turned away for a corner. Israel were content to sit back for the remainder of the game and attempt to counter-attack.
Ireland came close to leveling the game when Ian Daly’s free kick from the corner of the box evaded everyone and struck the far post.
With 70 minutes gone, Craig Duggan saw his shot go just over the crossbar after a great run. Duggan broke into the box again three minutes later, but his pull-back was cleared before it reached Daly.
With Israel sitting deeper, the Republic found it difficult to break down their defence.
James O’Brien’s shot from outside the box cleared the crossbar with 5 minutes to go and Israel held on after that to secure the win.
Republic of Ireland
Kevin O’Brien (Douglas Hall FC)
Mark Nolan (Shelbourne FC)
Gareth Matthews (Cherry Orchard) (83 mins)
Niall McArdle (Home Farm FC) (70 mins)
David Joyce (Castlebar Celtic FC)
James O’Brien (Cherry Orchard FC)
James Doyle (Home Farm FC) (51 mins)
Joe Collins (Portsmouth FC) (51 mins)
Ian Daly (Home Farm FC) (70 mins)
Kurtis Byrne (Cherry Orchard FC) (51 mins)
Shane O’Connor ( Wilton FC)
Kieron Thorp (Charlton Athletic FC)
Daniel Langan (Belvedere FC) (70 mins)
Paul Honohan (Wilton FC) (83 mins)
Dean Marshall (Shelbourne FC) (51 mins)
Conor McCormack (Bellurgan FC) (51 mins)
Craig Duggan (Kilreen Celtic FC) (51 mins)
Michael Collins (Cherry Orchard FC (70 mins)