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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

Ireland boss looks to appeal red card after Czech captain 'cheated the game'

‘I won’t be accepting one of our players suffering for that,’ Colin O’Brien said of Festy Ebosele’s dismissal.

Festy Ebosele and Jan Hellebrand Ireland's Festy Ebosele was sent off after an incident involving Czech Republic captain Jan Hellebrand. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U17 manager Colin O’Brien says an appeal will be lodged against the decision of Slovenian referee Rade Obrenovic to send off Festy Ebosele in the closing stages of Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Czech Republic.

In stoppage time of Ireland’s second European Championship fixture, which was played in front of 2,613 spectators at Waterford’s RSC, Ebosele was shown a second yellow card following an incident involving opposing player Jan Hellebrand.

The Czech captain reacted as though he had been shoved to the ground while heading the ball clear, but replays showed that Ebosele was unfairly dismissed as contact was minimal.

The Derby County winger now looks set to serve a suspension for Thursday’s final Group A fixture against Belgium in Tallaght, where Ireland will require a positive result if they’re to advance to the quarter-finals. 

“Any player, especially a young player, when there’s a poor decision against them it’s very hard for them to accept and understand, and I don’t blame them,” Colin O’Brien told The42.

“We will be appealing it. It was an incorrect decision. The player cheated the official, cheated the game, and I won’t be accepting one of our players suffering for that, to lose his position in the squad for such an important game.”

When asked about the likelihood of such an appeal succeeding with just a 72-hour gap between fixtures, O’Brien said: “I hope it can be done quickly.

“Uefa are staying in the same hotel as us, they have all the people here, and we’ll have people looking at that this evening. There is a referee panel and observers here, and I think they’ll be a little bit embarrassed by that incident. We’d hope to get a quick turnaround with it.” 

O’Brien was full of praise for his players after they fashioned a late equaliser to salvage a point. An 88th-minute goal from Andrew Omobamidele gave the host nation a share of the spoils, substitute Vaclav Sejk having put the Czechs ahead on 63 minutes with his first touch of the game.

“I actually thought we deserved to win the game in the overall context of it,” the Ireland boss said. “We just switched off for their goal and suffered for it.

“But the players understood that situation. They stayed calm, they went probing, they continued to use the ball well and deservedly got an equaliser. It was a set-play and a really good finish from Andrew. Calm and composed, it was nearly a striker’s finish from a centre-half.

“They’re just a very gutsy bunch of lads. We knew coming into tonight that it would all come down to the third game. We haven’t been beaten yet and we go into the last game knowing that a victory against Belgium will get us out of the group.”

Colin O'Brien Republic of Ireland U17 manager Colin O'Brien. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Belgium currently lead Group A on four points. Ireland and Czech Republic are on two each, while Greece prop up the table with a single point. The top two teams after Thursday’s games will progress to the knockout stages.

A total of 7,000 supporters have turned up to see the Irish team’s two games in the tournament so far, and O’Brien hopes another healthy attendance can play its part at Tallaght Stadium against the Belgians. 

He said: “You could nearly say Thursday’s game is a cup final. We want to get Tallaght rocking. We’d love for people to come out and support us again.

“They would have seen some good football again tonight, some good players, and these lads just don’t know when they’re beaten. They give it their all and they deserve a big crowd on Thursday night because they are feeding off it.” 

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Paul Dollery

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