Ireland's tax revenues finished last year 873 million euros (721.9 million pounds) behind target, with a fall in sales taxes - the government's main tool for raising additional funds in 2012 - deepening in December, data showed on Wednesday.

But Dublin said it had still met fiscal targets set as part of its EU/IMF bailout due to a tight lid being kept on spending, which was 1 percent below budget.

Overall, Ireland's budget shortfall widened to 24.9 billion euros at the end of December from 18.7 billion euros a year ago, largely due to capital injections for the country's banks.

Stripping out the near 11 billion euros in capital funnelled to the banks and including a 1 billion euros gain from the sale of part of the state's share in Bank of Ireland , the underlying deficit fell by 2.75 billion euros.

Under the terms of its bailout, Ireland must shrink its deficit to 8.6 percent of gross domestic product this year from an estimated 10.1 percent in 2011, against the backdrop of a worsening euro zone debt crisis that threatens to undermine Dublin's hopes of a return to export-led economic growth. ($1 = 0.7747 euros)

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by John Stonestreet)