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Ireland defeat Italy for U19 finals return

Republic of Ireland 3-0 Italy
Goals from Connor Murphy, substitute Sean Murray and Joseph Shaughnessy took Ireland into their first finals since 2002 as Group 4 winners.

Ireland manager Paul Doolin (left) celebrates with goalscorer Connor Murphy
Ireland manager Paul Doolin (left) celebrates with goalscorer Connor Murphy ©Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland qualified for their first UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals in nine years with a convincing defeat of Italy.

Ireland went into the elite round Group 4 decider in Poland two points behind their opponents but goals from Connor Murphy, substitute Sean Murray and Joseph Shaughnessy sealed victory against a side who ended with nine men. Paul Doolin's team will compete in Romania from 20 July and in the draw in Bucharest on 8 June join the hosts, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Serbia and two further teams to be decided next week.

After a quiet start Ireland fired a warning shot on 16 minutes when Declan Walker tested Francesco Bardi. The Italy goalkeeper now found himself having to work hard as Ireland took over the game and they were ahead on 32 minutes when Murphy lost his marker and lobbed Bardi from the edge of the box.

It was nearly 2-0 early in the second half when John O'Sullivan broke through but Bardi stood firm. However, Italy's defence was breached again just past the hour as Murray – introduced not long after the break – was sent clear and calmly beat Bardi.

Italy's sole chances to reduce arrears came in the 69th minute as Pietro Iemmello was denied first by Ireland goalkeeper Aaron McCarey and then captain John Egan. All doubts were removed nine minutes from time when Murphy's free-kick was chested on to Shaughnessy, who made no mistake from five metres.

Late on both Cristiano Biraghi and Mario Sampirisi were sent off but Italy's hopes of a third qualification in four seasons were already gone.