Ireland miss out on European Under 21 Championship

UEFA U21 Championships qualifying Group Seven: Hungary  2-1  Republic of Ireland U21

The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of reaching the UEFA U21 Championships play-offs ended after a frustrating loss to Hungary in Kecskemet on Thursday.

Noel King’s side produced a solid display but ultimately suffered defeat as a result of two poor defensive lapses in the first half.

Ireland can now no longer claim second spot in Group Seven but head into their final fixture against top placed Italy at the Giuseppe Capozza Stadium in Casarano on Monday looking to end the group on a high.

One positive to come out of the game was that Manchester United starlet Robbie Brady set a new under-21 scoring record for Ireland when he notched his seventh at this level with a first half penalty.

After 15 minutes and having had a few chances in the opening stages, the home side took the lead when Leicester City striker Marko Futacs capped off a counter-attack by taking advantage of being left without pressure to fire home with a low strike from 25 yards.

Ireland had two realistic penalty claims turned down before Hungary broke down the other end of the pitch almost immediately and Istvan Kovacs scored from a low Futacs cross after a rapid counterattack just before the half hour mark.

Murphy was denied a certain goal in the 31st minute when he pounced on a loose ball in the box but his shot on turn was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

The Irish finally had a turn of fortune in the 39th minute when a powerful run by Greg Cunningham saw him taken down by Fodor for a penalty.

Brady stepped up to send Gulacsi the wrong way from the spot-kick to put Ireland right back in the game.

Three minutes later Aidan White was sent through by Brady but he slipped the ball just wide with only the keeper to beat. It was to prove the best opportunity the Irish had to level.

Hungary were handed a golden opportunity to extend their lead in controversial circumstances in the 45th minute when a strike by Futacs was charged down by Shane Duffy and the referee deemed it had struck the defender’s hand.

Irish keeper McLoughlin had already made a penalty stop in this campaign and he proved his class once again when he made an impressive save to deny Futacs from the spot-kick. Remarkably the striker fired the rebound wide.

The second half was a tighter affair as the home side set about keeping their goal intact and hitting the Irish on the break.

Despite causing the home side a few scares, the young Irish never got behind the home back four.

The home side held firm from then on and claimed the three points. Ireland remain in third place but are still five points behind second-placed Turkey, who have completed their fixtures.

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