FRANCE 2-1 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Aaron Doran 16
The Republic of Ireland U16 team were edged out by a classy and talented French side in Stadium Fred Aubert in Saint Brieuc on Thursday. Ireland drew with the French on Tuesday and again contributed to a very competitive and enjoyable contest.
All the goals came in the first 30 minutes of the game, but the two sides played out an entertaining game with both having chances to increase the goal tally.
Ireland’s first chance came just two minutes in. A long ball forward from Richie Towell allowed Ronan Murray use his pace to chase down the ball.
French keeper Hfa-Hezui saw the danger and left his goal-line to attempt to clear. His kick rebounded off Murray, but Hfa-Hezui was thankful to see the ball go out for a goal-kick.
France took the lead a minute later. Kallum Keane lost possession in defence. Auxerre player Toure controlled the ball, steadied himself and his shot from the edge of the box flew into Mark Connors left top corner.
Ireland had a great opportunity to get back on terms after 9 minutes. Gearoid Morrissey played the ball wide to Callum O’Shea on the right wing.
O’Shea beat his man and raced down the wing. David O’Brien failed to get a head on his cross into the box. A Gavin Gunning drive from a 25 yard free kick went just wide of the left post.
The Republic got the equaliser after 16 minutes. A long ball over the French defence saw Murray and Hfa-Hezui again in a race for the ball on the left wing. Murray was the winner this time and he passed to Aaron Doran who struck into the empty net from the edge of the box.
France were causing the Irish defence problems and had two chances in as many minutes to go ahead. With 20 minutes gone a cross from the left wing was headed wide by the striker. Then an in-swinging free from the same wing was flicked goalwards but Connors got down well to save.
The French managed to regain the lead after 27 minutes. A cross from the left of the box was headed towards goal. Connors could only manage to palm the header into the path of Toure, who tapped home for his second. Both sides were creating scoring chances and Callum O’Shea had a header saved from a Towell corner with 32 minutes gone.
France had chances near the end of the half to extend their lead. The Irish defence half cleared a corner and Gunning had to charge down the follow up shot. French scorer from the first game, Kakuta, saw his fierce strike from a 30 yard free kick crash off the crossbar.
Manager Vincent Butler made four changes to his line-up at half time to attempt to secure an equaliser. However it was France who created the first opportunities of the half.
Two minutes in Harry Lee blocked at the feet of the French striker but the ball broke free and Niall Byrne was on hand to clear the goal-bound effort from the Irish line.
Lyon’s Lacazette had a chance for a third French goal after 50 minutes but Lee again saved and claimed the ball - the referee turned away penalty appeals from the striker.
Ireland then had a number of chances to get back on level terms. Darragh Satelle saw his attempt on goal saved after 58 minutes. Six minutes later Conor Hourihane won possession in midfield and his pass was flicked on by Satelle to Greg Cunningham.
Cunningham squared to Morrissey 18 yards out and his shot was tipped wide. The resulting corner flashed across the goalmouth with John Dunleavy failing the get the required touch.
With 74 minutes gone, Hfa-Hezui again thwarted the Irish saving Gunning’s goalbound header and Satelle shot into the side-netting 5 minutes later. As the game reached its closing stages both teams nearly added to the score board. France broke from an Irish corner and Lacazette rounded Lee, but Morrissey had got back to provide the cover and cleared off the line.
Deep in injury time Hourihane thought he had snatched a draw, but his super shot from over 30 yards out scraped past the post.
Despite the loss, Ireland can take a lot of positives out of the two games and their performances against one of the top teams in Europe.
The Republic take on Finland next week in a double home friendly International– Tuesday October 03rd 19.30 hrs and Thursday October05th 12.30hrs at Home Farm FC.
Republic of Ireland’s team:
16. Mark Connors (Lee HT)
2. Niall Byrne
12. Gavin Gunning
5. Kallum Keane (Hourihane HT)
8. Richard Towell
7. Aaron Doran
13. Gearoid Morrissey
4. John Dunleavy
15. Callum O’Shea (Howard 74mins)
10. Ronan Murray (Satelle HT)
17. David O’Brien (Cunningham HT)
1. Harry Lee
3. Mark Power
6. David Cawley
9. Darragh Satelle
11. Greg Cunningham
14. Conor Hourihane
18. Shane Howard