Hearts were edged out 1-0 by St Patrick’s Athletic in the first friendly match of their visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
JJ Lunney’s first-half strike was all the separated the two sides in what was a closely fought and competitive match.
The hosts nearly took the lead inside four minutes when a sweeping ball across the face of goal was met by Christy Fagan, but his first-time shot was brilliantly beaten away by Viktor Noring.
St Pats kept up the pressure and nearly found a way through the Hearts defence after 18 minutes. A long ball into the box was taken down by Graham Kelly but he could only tee up Conan Byrne 20-yards out and he dragged his effort well wide of the target.
The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute, courtesy of the home side. Kelly robbed Alex Petkov of possession and found Lunney inside the box, he took a touch away from two men before drilling low beyond Noring and into the back of the net.
Hearts nearly answered back straight away. Malaury Martin did well to win the ball and send in an inviting looping cross to Cole Stockton, but the ball was just inches high of the striker’s head.
With two minutes of the first-half remaining Hearts almost got back on level terms when Conor Sammon hit a snapshot at the edge of the box, but the ball flew inches wide of Barry Murphy’s left-hand post.
Ian Cathro made a string of changes at half-time, introducing eight players to the field including recent signings Ashley Smith-Brown and Michael Smith.
St Patrick’s went close to doubling their lead 58 minutes in. Substitute Josh O’Hanlon was threaded through but was denied by a superb Jack Hamilton stop at his near post.
Hearts had their best chance to date two minutes later when a slip up at the back allowed Walker to pick up the ball eight-yards out, but just as he was about to pull the trigger a last-ditch tackle from a St Pats defender sent the ball behind.
Byrne almost made it 2-0 on 65 minutes, getting on the end of a ball into the front post but he thundered his effort high and wide of the target.
Isma and Walker combined well on the edge of the box 69 minutes in, with the former sending the latter through but Murphy made a solid stop from Walker’s angled shot.
A quick-thinking free-kick released Ian Bermingham inside the box in the 78th minute but he fired into the side netting.
St Pats thought they had made it 2-0 with ten minutes remaining when Billy Dennehy’s low drive from 18-yards flew past a clutch of bodies and into the net, but Josh O’Hanlon, who was standing on the goal-line and motioned towards the ball, was flagged offside.
Dennehy stung the hands of Hamilton late on with a shot from outside the box as time ran out for the Jambos to find an equaliser.
St Patrick's Athletic: Murphy, Barker, Bermingham, Feely, Balk, Garvan, Brennan, G. Kelly, C. Byrne, Lunney, Fagan. Subs: O'Malley, Desmond, Markey, C. Kelly, Grogan, Dennehy, O'Brien, Keena, J. O'Hanlon, A. O'Hanlon.
Hearts: Noring (Hamilton, 46'), Brandon (M. Smith, 46'), Grzelak (Smith-Brown, 46' - Beith, 73'), Petkov, McGhee, Berra (Hughes, 46'), Martin (Cowie, 46'), Nowak (Cochrane, 46'), Stockton (Lafferty, 73'), Sammon (Isma, 46'), Currie (Walker, 46'). Subs: Henderson.
Ref: Ben Connolly