Football: Unwanted souvenirs for Irish youngsters

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The Independent Online
The Republic of Ireland's battered Under-21 squad have collected another unwanted souvenir from their exhausting European Championship double-header through two time zones via Iceland and Lithuania.

They returned home last night already counting the bruises from last Friday's 1-0 defeat in Reykjavik which the senior team manager, Mick McCarthy, said "could have produced 10 red cards".

Now the defender Thomas Morgan, who captained the Irish Youth team in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Malaysia in July, has had four stitches in two deep gashes below his left knee. It is the legacy of a tackle by Lithuania's forward Mantas Samusiovas, who was only booked.

The St Patrick's Athletic player's first start at the higher age level lasted just 10 minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher. He said: "The Lithuanian's boot went right through my shin pad, and my leg was cut to the bone. I guess I am very lucky it isn't broken."

The Under-21 manager Ian Evans also saw his side slip to another defeat in Alytus - 2-1 this time - after taking a 65th-minute lead with a superb goal by the Tottenham winger Peter Gain, who was also making his debut.

Evans said: "I felt sorry for them. They deserved better. After it was obvious we couldn't qualify for the European quarter-finals following the defeat in Iceland, I made a few changes to give all the squad a run.

"But it was still a good performance, and it was just two lapses in five minutes after we had gone in front. Even then we should have been given a penalty when Dominic Foley was fouled, but we're used to decisions like that away from home."