|Republic of Ireland Under-15s line up for the national anthem at the Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain|
|The Netherlands edged out the Republic of Ireland Under-15 team 2-1 in an eventful game in Murcia, Spain today.|
Caden McLoughlin cancelled out Erald Krasniqi’s opener before the Dutch team were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half
.A controversial Julian Rijkhoff penalty in the second half proved to be the winner in an even contest between the two teams.
The Netherlands, who were boasting players from Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV, took the lead after four minutes.
Emmanuel Van De Blaak picked out Krasniqi in the area with a lovely ball before the forward found the corner for the opener.
But on 10 minutes Ireland hit back. Joe O’Brien Whitmarsh played a ball over the top for McLoughlin to latch onto. He outpaced the Dutch backline and fired past Tom Bramel.
Netherlands were reduced to 10 men when Rafik El Arguioui was shown a straight red card for a dangerous looking tackle on McLoughlin as Ireland were looking to break.
Ireland’s influence began to grow on the game with Gideon Tetteh and Rocco Vata causing problems for the Netherlands.
In first-half stoppage time Conor Walsh was forced into an excellent save to thwart Jason Van Duiven.
The Mayo SL stopper dived to his left to palm away the effort to keep Ireland all square.
The Mayo man was called into action again after the break to tip over Van Duiven’s sharp effort as the Netherlands came out looking to restore their lead.Netherlands were awarded a penalty on 55 minutes after referee Salvador Lax Franco called a harsh handball against Ireland.
Ajax’s Julian Rijkhoff stepped up to send Walsh the wrong way.Ireland had their own shouts for a penalty when Cian Barrett beat his man to the byline and appeared to be tripped but the referee turned away protests.
Ireland had a great chance to get back level when a James McManus free-kick wasn’t cleared and McLoughlin fired over from the loose ball.
They had another chance in the final minute when a long free-kick by Walsh fell into the area but none of the Irish bodies in the box could convert the ball from the goal mouth scramble.
Speaking after the game Ireland Under-15 Head Coach Jason Donohue said: “We were not happy with certain elements of how we played against Spain. The standard of their team was high but struggled in aspects of the game we’re usually good at.
“We improved on that today, I still think this team has much more to offer such as not panicking in possession and that will be the target against Czech Republic.
“Their first goal was a gift from us but our response was great. Then they went down to 10 men and I think at the high level of the game our players need to learn when to press teams higher when the opposition is sitting in deep and come up with their own solutions.
“Things were going really well in the second half then we had the penalty decision go against us. It’s one of those where it’s part of the game and you hope it evens itself over the rest of the season.”
Speaking about the tests Spain and Netherlands have presented his players, Donohue added: “Overall the players should be happy to compete with such quality opposition.
“I would rather play the Spains, Netherlands and Czech Republics of this world every week because I feel it will only bring our players on.
“You can’t ask for better opposition to face because you need your players to develop so they feel comfortable in pressurised situations.
“The time to do it is now at 15s, 16s, 17s because when you get to 19s, 21s and first team – fingers crossed – you’re qualifying for big events.
“It’s my job as an international manager and our job as a society that we set up the best possible structure so our players can compete with these top-class nations time and time again.”
Republic of Ireland: Walsh (GK); Malone, Curtis (C), Kelly (Heffernan 58), Hughes; Barrett, O’Brien Whitmarsh (McManus 58) Murray (Zefi 51); Tetteh (Murphy 51), Vata (Nolan 63), McLoughlin.
Netherlands: Bramel (GK); Blokzijl, Van De Blaak, Gill’ard, Symons; El Arguioui, Simons (Rijkhoff,51), Kleijn(C) (Agougil 51); Van Duiven, Speksnijder (Gijselhart 58), Krasniqi (Milambo 77).
Fixtures: February 3: Ireland v Czech Republic, Pinatar Arena, Murcia, Spain KO 12pm (Irish time)Results
January 30: Spain 2-0 Ireland
February 1: Netherlands 2-1 Ireland