10.06.2003 at 19:00 Buckley Park - Kilkenny
Referee: Robert Johnsdorf (LUX)
European Qualifier / PROG-match
Givens satisfied with point for 10-man U-21s
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Republic of Ireland U-21 1
Georgia U-21 1
By Owen Cowzer
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U-21 coach Don Givens took heart from his side’s 1-1 draw against their Georgian counterparts in Buckley Park last night.
Lado Akhalaia gave the visitors a 25th-minute lead but the Irish youngsters fought back and levelled through Colin Cryan eight minutes into the second half.
Ten minutes later debutant Keith Gilroy was sent off for a professional foul and Givens side had chances to win it but were ultimately forced to settle for a draw.
"It was a tale of two halves really," the coach said.
"In the first half we did not get going and gave away a sloppy goal but I had a word at half-time and we were much better in the second half. I think we could have gone on and won it.
"I have no complaints about Keith Gilroy getting sent off, but even then, we were the better team.
"We passed the ball well and worked very hard. We have had a difficult week with really what was four games with the Germany game, the training match with the senior squad, Albania and now Georgia, so we have a lot of tired players.
"But everyone can be happy with their performances this week. We have learned a lot and played very well.
"Georgia were strong and played well, but I think our performance was much better."
Andrew Reid believes he and his team-mates can take heart from the fightback.
The Nottingham Forest midfielder, who showed some excellent flourishes of skill in a man-of-the-match performance, said:
"Considering the way the game went a draw was a good result. It was a heavy pitch but we gave away a sloppy goal but I suppose looking back on that it is a good result for us.
"The team feel we did not perform as we could have done in the first half but we played very well in the second half. We played the better football, we created more chances and we deserved to win, but it was not to be.
"The pitch was not the best but we cannot really use that as an excuse there was a lot of sloppy play and the manager said we needed to work better and we played very well I thought."
Ireland started brightly with Andy Reid and Thomas Butler posing menacing threats on the wings, but strikers Graham Barrett and John O Flynns impact was kept to minimum by Georgias deep defending.
But the visitors looked the more dangerous with playmaker Giorgi Dekanosidze posing plenty of problems. And it was no surprise when they took the lead after 25 minutes through Lado Akhalaia.
The Dinamo Tbilisi man was part of the senior squad last week until manager Ivo Suzak culled the squad from 28 to 22, and he showed why he is rated so highly in his native country with a typical poachers finish.
Dekanosidze won possession in the centre circle and played a wonderful slide rule pass that split the Ireland defence through for Akhalaia to race onto and toe poke past the advancing Dan Connor and into the net despite Stephen Kellys gallant attempt to get back and make a clearance.
On 53 minutes, Ireland did grab the equaliser after a horrific error by Mamaladze.
The goalkeeper failed to keep hold Thorntons free kick and ball squirmed to Colin Cryan who headed the ball over Mamaladze and into the back of the net.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Connor (Waterford United); Kelly (Tottenham Hotspur), Cryan (Sheffield United), Thompson (Nottingham Forest), Capper (Sunderland); Butler (Sunderland), Gilroy (Scarborough), Thornton (Sunderland), Reid (Nottingham Forest); O Flynn (Cork City), Barrett (Coventry City).
Sub: Elliott (Manchester City) for O Flynn (64 mins), O Connor (Brentford) for Thornton (79 mins), Hoolahan (Shelbourne) for Reid (88 mins).
GEORGIA: Mamaladze; Tsimakuridze, Salukvadze, Intskirveli, Kandelaki; Tchelidze, Gamezardashvili, Dekanosidze, Khojava; Akhalaia, Bobokhidze.
Sub: Sajaia for Khojava (61 mins), Akhalkatsi for Dekanosidze (79 mins), Berianidze for Intskirveli (83 mins).
Referee: R Johnsdorf (Luxembourg).