Belgium U16 "B"...1-0 Republic of Ireland "A" U16
The Republic of Ireland Under-16s looked on their way to a credible draw against Belgium today (Thursday) in Tongeren until they conceded in the last minute of the game.
In a rare incident of goalmouth action in the Irish penalty area, they were undone by a wicked free-kick that took a flick of a Belgium striker at the front post to deceive goalkeeper Conor O Donnell.
Ireland had followed up Tuesdays impressive performance with another assured display but a lack of cutting edge in front of goal would haunt them in the dying seconds.
John Morlings side carved out their opponents on several occasions in the first half only to suffer when it came to end product.
Kealan Dillon, the scorer of Irelands winner on Tuesday, smashed an early shot over the crossbar before both Philip Roberts and Carel Tiofack saw good chances saved.
The opportunities continued to flow for the visitors with centre-back Adam O Connor heading over from Dillons corner and Roberts being foiled by the Belgium goalkeeper after he raced clear on goal.
Tiofack managed to beat the goalkeeper from Ken McEvoys low cross but the effort was ruled out for offside, despite him looking at least level with the last defender.
Irish netminder Conor O Donnell was relieved to see the Belgian striker nod his header from a good position wide early in the second half but Ireland continued to attack and Michael Drennan was unable to match his bustling dribble with the finish shortly afterwards.
The game looked to be petering out when the Irish goal was breached, providing a disappointing end to an otherwise productive afternoon for the boys in green.
Ireland manager John Morling said afterwards: "The boys did well today apart from not scoring.
"Ahead of next seasons UEFA Under-17 Championship qualifiers, it was a lesson. Chances such as those we created must be put away at this level of international football or, failing that, ensuring they get at least a draw by not conceding at the other end.
"The boys will learn from this experience. I could not fault their effort and we had by far the vast majority of goalscoring chances.
"These games in Belgium were the last for this season and the players have really developed over the course of the season. Our Under-17 manager Sean McCaffrey was with us this week for the two pairs of matches and the players would have made an impression, including some of the late developers in the B squad.
"I would like to thank all the players who were involved this season, not just those with us this week, and I will look forward to keeping tabs on how they do in the future, both for their clubs and Ireland."
REP OF IRELAND U16 "A": Conor O Donnell (Buncrana Hearts); Colm Horgan (Salthill Devon), Luke Gallagher (Cherry Orchard), Adam O Connor (Cherry Orchard), Shane Griffin (Carrigaline United); Darragh Lenihan (Belvedere), Brandon Miele (Cherry Orchard), Kealan Dillon (Belvedere), Michael Drennan (Evergreen); Carel TioFack
(Ballincollig), Philip Roberts (Norwich City).
Substitutions: Ken McEvoy (Villa FC) for Miele (15 mins - inj), Jamie Smith (Cherry Orchard) for Gallagher (60 mins - inj), James Murphy (Reading) for Tiofack (70 mins), Sami AdeOsobe (Glenmuir United) for Dillon (75 mins),
Under-16 Friendly Internationals:
Tuesday, April 27
Belgium B 3-4 Republic of Ireland A
Belgium A 1-0 Republic of Ireland B
Thursday, April 29
Belgium A 1-0 Republic of Ireland A
Belgium B 3-0 Republic of Ireland B