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Ireland U19s Secure Semi-Final Spot At Euros, But It Came At A Cost

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It was nervy at times, but the Republic of Ireland have secured a place in the semi-finals of the U19 European Championships after their win over Czech Republic this evening. That result, coupled with France’s win over Norway, ensured Ireland would finish second in the group.

Despite the win, it was not all good news for Ireland.

Jonathan Afolabi gave Tom Mohan’s side the lead just after the half hour mark, taking his chance incredibly well.

While the Czechs would equalise with 10 minutes to go, Ireland would retake the lead thanks to Celtic’s Barry Coffey.

Ireland would see out the rest of the game in a relatively comfortable fashion, booking their place in the next round. They are now set to take on Portugal in the semi-finals, but the win was tainted by a couple of questionable refereeing calls late on.

Lee O’Connor and Jonathan Afolabi are set to miss the match against the Portuguese after picking up yellow cards in the closing stages. It was a second booking of the tournament for both players, meaning they will be forced to serve a one match suspension.

O’Connor was booked for time wasting, and it was a very harsh decision by the referee. He was not given any prior warning before receiving the yellow card, as is the norm in such situations.

It was not exactly clear what Afolabi received his caution for, but it appears to have been for tripping a Czech defender. It was never a yellow.

Ireland will now be forced to face Portugal without the pair, who have both been key contributors so far in the tournament.

Already without a number of key players, all of whom are on club duty, this could be a killer blow.

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