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Heartbreak for Northern Ireland starlets in Euro qualifier

Northern Ireland 3-4 Slovakia

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland's Under-17s suffered Euro heartbreak at Seaview last night, tasting defeat in a seven-goal thriller against Slovakia. Stephen Frail's boys still had hopes of qualifying for the elite stages but this qualifying loss will take a long time to digest.

A 4-0 defeat to Spain at Mourneview Park on Monday failed to dent confidence but a spirited showing in north Belfast proved to be in vain.

Reece McGinley netted twice for the hosts, including a penalty, and Maurice Chambers was also on target but Slovakia, who beat San Marino 4-0, won it with a winner in the 80th minute.

It was a heartbreaking finish for the home side after McGinley's sweet lob had fired them in front in the 69th minute but they were undone by a Martin Murcko hat-trick after Tomas Filipiak had opened the scoring.

Northern Ireland conclude their qualifying campaign against San Marino on Saturday at Mourneview Park (3pm).

Before the Slovakia clash, Frail, who is also Northern Ireland Under-19 boss, revealed that he was enjoying the role, adding: "I enjoy coaching, it's where I want to be working with young elite football players which I believe we've got."

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