In-form former Derry City striker Ronan Curtis was on the mark for the Republic of Ireland under-21 side that drew 1-1 in Mitrovica against Kosovo.

The 22-year-old Portsmouth player scored in the 81st minute to earn a draw for the Republic.

The talanted player, who was born in London but who grew up in St. Johnston in east Co. Donegal and who played for Swilly Rovers and Kildrum Tigers before Derry City, scored with a fantastic solo effort to level the tie after Florent Hasani opened the scoring for the visitors at the Stadiumi Olimpik Adem Jashari.

In a first-half of few chances for either side, Curtis almost handed Ireland the lead in the ninth minute after he turned inside off the right but his shot went narrowly past the left-hand post.

Dren Feka hit the bar with a powerful header in the 27th-minute before Ryan Manning almost gave Noel King's side the lead. The Galway-native charged down goalkeeper Florjan Smakiqi's clearance, but the keeper collected the ball at the second attempt.

The home side should have taken the lead five minutes into the second-half. Lirim Kastrasti was a constant threat as he burst down the right to cut inside but dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Kastrati played a huge part in the goal when the home side took the lead in the 64th-minute. The No.9 burst down the wing to play a neat cross to Hasani who turned the ball home.

Noel King was left frustrated at the final whistle as the away side should have secured all three points. Another set-piece saw Sweeney dominate the air once again to knock down for Harry Charsley but the keeper somehow saved his effort from six-yards out.

In the final seconds of the game, substitute Jake Mulraney flashed the ball past the six-yard area with Ronan Hale at the back-post. The Derry City man was inches away from turning the ball home as both sides were forced to settle for a draw.

It's a point which sees Ireland maintain second spot in UEFA U21 European Championship qualifying Group Five ahead of Tuesday's game against Germany at Tallaght Stadium.

"We can be frustrated after the game. I thought the work-rate and the spirit of the players was fantastic, and deserved to get something out of the game. But, if you're looking at the chances at the end, we should have secured all three points," U21 Head Coach Noel King said.

"It was a fantastic goal from Ronan, he was brilliant throughout the game and I'm delighted for him to get his goal. Kosovo are a really good team and they've taken points off Germany here so it's a positive result. We go into Tuesday's game against Germany with qualification still in our hands."

Striker Ronan Curtis and defender Ryan Sweeney will be suspended for Tuesday's game against Germany due to suspension, having received three yellow cards during the campaign.

Kosovo: Florjan Smakiqi (GK), Arian Kabashi, Besfort Kolgeci, Ardian Ismajli (C), Dren Feka, Valmir Sulejmani (Kushtrim Shabani 72), Florent Hasani (Mirlind Daku 89), Lirim Kastrati, Ron Broja, Kamer Krasniqi (Merirton Korenica 59), Lirim Mema.

Republic of Ireland: Kieran O'Hara (GK), Danny Kane (Ronan Hale 75), Corey Whelan, Conor Shaughnessy, Ryan Sweeney, Harry Charsley, Josh Cullen (C), Reece Grego-Cox, Ronan Curtis, Ryan Manning (Jake Mulraney 75), Liam Kinsella.

Referee: Petr Ardeleanu (CZE)

Tickets for Tuesday's qualifier against Germany are available via Ticketmaster. Tickets are just €5 for adults and FREE for U18s and FAI Season Ticket Holders.

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