Football: Ireland have no luck

Republic of Ireland Under-21 0 Sweden Under-21 3
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The Independent Online
STEPHEN GRANT'S luckless finishing summed up the misfortunes of the Republic of Ireland's Under 21 side in Birr, Co Offaly, yesterday.

The Stockport striker, who began his career with the Irish junior club, Birr Town, had several chances after he came on as a 63rd-minute substitute, but those he did put on target were well saved.

A Swedish substitute, Jonas Wahlstedt, showed him the way with a double strike in the second half to confirm the Republic's defeat by a visiting side who were sharper in most departments than the patched up home team. The Republic's coach, Ian Evans, had lost Kevin Kilbane and Steve Finnan to the senior party for today's full international.

Patric Andersson shot Sweden into the lead after 24 minutes. The Irish defence seemed to have dozed off in the warm spring sunshine when Eric Edman slanted a right-wing cross into the goalmouth for Frederik Berglund. His shot deflected off Andy O'Brien for Andersson to score with ease.

The Irish youngsters worked hard but lacked the subtlety to unhinge the Swedish rearguard, although Alan Mahon did waste an inviting chance two minutes before the break when set up by Neale Fenn.

The Republic were punished for that lapse within 10 minutes of the interval when Tobias Linderoth's cross was deflected over the head of the goalkeeper Derek O'Connor for Walhlstedt to slot the ball home. Grant's chances came and went seconds from the end Wallerstedt put the finishing touch to Sweden's victory.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND UNDER-21: O'Connor (Bradford Park Avenue); Worrell (Dundee Utd), Barry-Murphy (Cork City), Morgan (St Patrick's Athletic), Hawkins (St Patrick's Athletic), O'Brien (Bradford City), Maybury (Reading), Clare (Grimsby), Fenn (Lincoln City), Mahon (Tranmere Rovers), McKeever (Sheffield Wednesday).

Sweden Under-21: Jankulovski, C Andersson, O Perrson, Arvhagd, Edman, Johansson, Linderovdt, Vaapil, Enqvist, P Andersson, Berglund.

Referee: A Snoddy (Northern Ireland).

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