Northern Ireland’s men’s Under-19 team lost narrowly to Hungary by two goals to one in Larne this evening. Hungary went two up before Gareth McAuley’s side pulled one back late in the game.
UEFA Preparatory U19 Friendly Tournament
Northern Ireland U19s 1 Hungary U19s 2
Northern Ireland: Lennon (87’)
Hungary: Batai (32’), Pesti (48’)
Inver Park, Larne
15 November 2023
This was Northern Ireland’s first game in a four-team preparation tournament ahead of the UEFA Men’s Under-19 European Championship 2024, which is being hosted by the Irish Football Association. The prep tournament also features Portugal, top seeds for U19 Euro 2024, and Czechia.
U19s boss Gareth McAuley had a 23-strong panel to choose from.
Northern Ireland’s first preparation game for next year’s eight-team U19 Euro final tournament took place in September when they narrowly lost 3-2 to Italy in Tuscany.
Most of the 19-strong squad who faced the Italians have been retained for this prep tournament. However, McAuley has brought in five new faces in midfield trio Jack Doherty, Blaine McClure and Corey Smith plus strikers Kieran Morrison and Sam Glenfield.
How it happened
It was a scrappy affair at the start. The first chance fell to the Hungarians when striker Zoltan Pesti scooped the ball over the top from close range on 12 minutes.
Northern Ireland’s first proper opening came on 21 minutes when Brendan Hamilton slipped the ball to Sam Glenfield and his snapshot from 20 yards was well held by Hungary keeper Benedek Erdelyi.
Just after the half-hour mark Northern Ireland captain Gallagher Lennon produced a fine covering tackle to thwart Pesti as he bore down on goal. From the resulting corner, however, Hungary took the lead. Pesti delivered the ball into the six-yard area where fellow attacker Tamas Batai powerfully headed it home.
Hungary, who had enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the first half, continued to press. Barnabas Mohos’s curling effort went just wide of the post.
Half-time: Northern Ireland U19s 0 Hungary U19s 1
Pesti pounced on a mistake by defender Joshua Briggs just after the restart to put Hungary two up. Pesti stroked the ball neatly past Northern Ireland keeper Pierce Charles from seven yards.
Lennon had the ball in the net shortly after, but the captain’s effort was ruled out because he was adjudged to have been in an offside position when he got on the end of a Kieran Morrison delivery from a free-kick and powerfully headed the ball past the keeper.
Morrison fired a shot over the bar from distance as Northern Ireland pushed forward, while substitute Devlan Moses sliced the ball wide of the target and fellow sub Rio Oudnie-Morgan, after being teed up by Morrison, put a shot past the upright.
Another sub, Blaine McClure, produced a neat low drive which was just off target before Northern Ireland pulled a goal back on 87 minutes. Hamilton delivered a corner to the back post where Lennon powerfully headed the ball home.
Northern Ireland, who played much better in the second half, could not find an equaliser in the remaining minutes of the game.
In today’s other match, played at Seaview, Portugal drew 1-1 with Czechia. Next up for Northern Ireland is a game against the Czechs on Saturday (18 November, 7pm start). Once again it is being played at Inver Park.
Full-time: Northern Ireland U19s 1 Hungary U19s 2
Northern Ireland: Pierce Charles, Phoenix Scholtz, Brendan Hamilton, Joshua Briggs, George Goodman, Gallagher Lennon (captain), Lewis Trickett, Ryan Donnelly, Kieran Morrison, Sam Glenfield, Reece Evans.
Substitutes: (used) Blaine McClure, Devlan Moses, Rio Oudnie-Morgan; (unused) Mason Munn (GK), Joel Thompson, Ruairi McConville, Tom Atcheson, Francis Turley, Corey Smith, Sean Brown, Jack Doherty.
Hungary: Benedek Erdelyi, Akos Markgraf, Janos Bodnar, Gergely Kocsis, Levente Almassy, Szabolcs Szitai, Marcell Major, Alex Toth (captain), Tamas Batai, Barnabas Mohos, Zoltan Pesti.
Substitutes: Mark Gyetvan (GK), Bence Komlosi, Zsombor Boros, Marcell Huszar, Florian Cibla, Kevin Horvath, Attila Pinter, Szabolcs Dusinszki, Laszlo Vingler, Benjamin Szabo, Boldizsar Rab.