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'It just wasn't good enough': Ireland face make-or-break November after Montenegro setback

Ireland sit third in Group F ahead of Dublin dates with Sweden and Italy.

Ireland's Will Ferry at full time in Tuesday's defeat.
Ireland's Will Ferry at full time in Tuesday's defeat.
Image: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

IRELAND’S U21S WILL face a make-or-break November in their bid to qualify for the 2023 European Championships.

Conor Coventry missed a late penalty as the Boys in Green lost 2-1 in Montenegro, ending their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Sweden and Italy, Group F’s top two seeds, both visit Tallaght Stadium next month in what will be a crunch double-header.

The sides played out a 1-1 draw in Monza on Tuesday which leaves Sweden on top of the group on 11 points, one point clear of Italy and four clear of Ireland — both of whom have played a game less.

With just one automatic qualification place and one play-off place at stake, Jim Crawford acknowledged that his side will need to take six points from their rivals’ visits to Dublin to keep their qualification bid on track.

“As a collective, it just wasn’t good enough,” the Ireland manager said.

“You just can’t start football matches the way we started — we handed them two goals,” he added. “We were soft at times.

“Every game we play, we’ve got to learn from it. Certainly, I think the lads took 10 minutes or 15 minutes or whatever at half time and they learned that that’s the case at this level. In one v one duels, you need to be better.

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“We did a lot more in the second half but it’s very disappointing.

“We just have to regroup ourselves and and this makes November, you know, a critical window with regards to six points.”

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Niall Kelly

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