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Heartbreak for Mal

By Stuart McKinley

Mal Donaghy will have to lift his Northern Ireland under-19 side for tomorrow's European Championship qualifying clash with Slovakia after suffering heartbreaking defeat in their opening game.

It is vital that the Northern Ireland side get something from the game in order to keep their hopes alive after going down 1-0 to Austria in yesterday's group opener in Paphos.

Just when it looked like Donaghy's boys were going to hold out for a precious point the Austrians struck.

Guido Burgstaller won the clash with a 93rd minute goal, which knocked the heart out of the Northern Ireland side after a brave, battling performance.

Donaghy had placed a lot of importance on getting something from the first game and they are now fighting against the odds for a place in the next qualifying phase.

They have recovered from an opening defeat before to reach the Elite section. Two years ago in Cork they had only a single point going into the final game and still squeezed through.

Donaghy won't want to have to go through that again and he will be looking for a win against Slovakia to get things back on track before facing hosts Cyprus in Sunday's final group game.

Belfast Telegraph


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