Belfast Telegraph

Breen is the difference as McConkey's men are beaten by Republic of Ireland

By Keith Bailie

Harry McConkey's Amateur International side had to settle for just one win in the Umbro Quadrangular Tournament after they lost 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland in Saturday's final match in Limerick.

Northern Ireland recorded a win over the Isle of Man on Thursday, before losing to Scotland on Friday. In their final game, they lost 1-0 to the host nation and eventual champions thanks to a 23rd minute goal from Paul Breen.

The crucial goal was not without controversy. Referee Alan Cowan awarded the goal despite furious protests from experienced goalkeeper Robert Robinson, who believed he had been fouled before Breen found the net.

Kyle Cherry and Daniel Ryan both went close for Northern Ireland, but neither were able to score the vital equaliser. Breen's first half goal was enough to win the game and allow the Republic of Ireland to claim the trophy, winning all three games without conceding a goal.

Northern Ireland got off to a flyer on Thursday afternoon when they beat the Isle of Man 2-1. Knockbreda duo Colum Curtis and Miguel Chines both scored for Northern Ireland within the first ten minutes to give Harry McConkey's men a two-goal lead.

The Isle of Man pulled a goal back in the 81st minute. Dundalk-born forward Ciaran McNulty tucked home a penalty after Institute defender Paddy McLaughlin gave away a foul inside the box, but Northern Ireland were able to hang on for a 2-1 win.

Arguably, the tournament's turning point arrived in the second half of Northern Ireland's second game, when experienced left back and captain Pat McShane received a red card against Scotland, in a 4-1 defeat.

Northern Ireland took the lead in the ninth minute when Colum Curtis' cross was turned into the net by Scotland defender Chris Donnelly.

Scotland equalised in the 60th minute when Scott Pitman's corner was headed in by Ross Campbell. Campbell scored his second of the game in the 74th minute from another set piece, despite the best efforts of Northern Ireland goalkeeper Robinson.

McShane was sent off in the second half for a foul inside the box on Richie Barr. Barr himself stepped up to convert the spot kick. Scotland completed the scoring in the 82nd minute when Chris Donnelly made up for his first half own goal, by scoring at the right end.

Harry McConkey and his experienced Northern Ireland side may be disappointed to come away with only one win from three games, but they can be pleased with their performances with a number of key decisions going against them.

McConkey's attentions will now switch to his preparations for the 2015 Regions Cup. Northern Ireland made the last eight of this year's edition of the tournament.

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