Republic of Ireland U17s beaten in European Championship opener

Serbia struck late to beat Colin O'Brien's side 1-0

Republic of Ireland U17

Image: FAI/Twitter

The Republic of Ireland U17s side have been beaten 1-0 in their European Championship opener against Serbia.

Colin O'Brien's side fell away to a late Željko Gavrić goal in Kostrena.

The sides were heading for a goalless draw, but Gavrić rose highest in the 72nd minute to head past Ireland goalkeeper, Brian Maher.

Aaron Connolly went closest for the Boys in Green, but they were unable to break down a stubborn Serbian defence.

"Overall I think a draw would have been a fair result," O'Brien said after the game. "In the first half we were probably second best, but we were still in the game.

"We were a bit too tentative in the early stages until we settled a bit towards the end of the half. 

"Second half, for the first 20 minutes, I thought we were very, very good. We got into some positive positions and I think we should have had a penalty. Then we got done by a set play late in the game. 

"It’s this group’s first defeat since the beginning of the qualifying campaign. It’s important we stay together and work out a plan for Sunday’s game.

"That game has become really important because if we are going to try and progress in the tournament we are going to have to win."

They'll have three days to regroup before they take on Bosnia & Herzegovina on Sunday afternoon. O'Brien will sense an opportunity to bounce back after Bosnia were beaten 5-0 by Germany this afternoon.

Ireland will play their final game of the group stages next Wednesday against Germany. Two victories will be imperative to progress, with only the top two making it to the next round of the competition.