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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

'By rule, it's a goal' - Ireland boss accepts officials' explanation for 95th-minute Greece equaliser

Colin O’Brien felt his side “deserved a win” after late drama saw them emerge from their Euro 2019 opener with just a point.

Ireland U17s Head Coach Colin O'Brien.
Ireland U17s Head Coach Colin O'Brien.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND U17S BOSS Colin O’Brien was remaining calm after his team had victory snatched cruelly away from them in the final seconds of their opening Euro 2019 encounter.

The Boys in Green had looked the better team for much of the 90 minutes and led Greece 1-0 going into stoppage time, only for a last-gasp Dimitris Arsenidis goal to ensure the game finished level.

To make matters worse, at one stage it looked as if the officials were going to rule the goal out, as the Greece player appeared to be in an offside position when scoring.

The Irish players surrounded the referee afterwards and protested vehemently but to no avail.

O’Brien too queried the decision from the sideline, but was diplomatic when questioned afterwards about the fixture’s chaotic climax.

“Our player deliberately played the ball, so that means the [opposition] player is back in the second part of the play, so by rule, it’s a goal,” he said.

He was in an offside position when the ball was dropped into the box. It was our player [that made] a deliberate action. That’s the ruling. If it just bounced off the [Irish] player, it would be a bit different, but if the action is deliberate, the player in the offside position is live.

“I just saw the flag going up as well. It was just a query, but my first thought was that it just bumped off him — his action was that he played the ball as opposed to the ball playing him.”

Andrew Omobamidele dejected Ireland's Andrew Omobamidele dejected after the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

While the Irish players looked thoroughly dejected on account of this unfortunate finish, O’Brien insisted his side would not let the disappointment with one game influence subsequent performances.

“It’s just a small knock. Usually these group games go to the final game in the group anyway. We’ll settle down, get them back into the hotel and just be planning for the Czech Republic in Waterford. We had great support here tonight and hopefully we’ll get more on Monday night.”

The former Cork City player continued: “We didn’t have a chance to even go and attack [after the equaliser]. I think we deserved to win the game. For 35 minutes tonight, I felt we were excellent. I felt we could have been a goal up at half-time, possibly more. We had the two best opportunities of the first half. They had a [a good spell] at the end of the first half, but I thought we defended brilliantly, we defended the box well. We denied them goalscoring opportunities.

“The second half was a little bit scrappy at times. You could see a little bit of nervousness from both teams and that’s expected.

We built the game up well, dominated possession, looked a threat on both flanks and created the best goalscoring opportunities. There was a calmness about the team. And then when we had to dig in and defend, we were able to do that as well. So we had that mix.

“If you look at the results today, everybody [in the group] jumped out of the blocks, everybody’s on a point [after Belgium and Czech Republic drew 1-1].”

Man of the match and goalscorer Matt Everitt, who plays with Brighton, along with Man City duo Joe Hodge and Timi Sobowale were among the players the standout players as Ireland came agonisingly close to securing a win. There was concern, however, for 17-year-old centre-back Sobowale, as he picked up a knock in the second half and had to be substituted in the 66th minute, with the player now a doubt for Monday’s match with the Czechs.

“It’s a little bit early,” O’Brien said of the injury. “He’s got to get assessed now, but whether it’s his glutes or hamstring, we’ll get a bit more on that tomorrow and we’ll see how he is. But with that type of injury, we felt we needed to get him off the pitch.”

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to discuss all the week’s rugby news.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Paul Fennessy

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