The Republic of Ireland Regions Cup team started their Intermediary Round in style as they upset hosts Italy earlier today thanks to an Eoin Hayes penalty on 22 minutes in a 1-0 scoreline.
The match in truth was a scrappy affair and Gerry Davies side held firm throughout. Italy did have half chances in the first 20 minutes but Rockmount Keeper Brendan O’Connell was equal to efforts from Fabio Filadelfia and Ivan Colombi.
Ireland took the lead on 22 minutes when Clonmel Celtics David Joyce was fouled in the area by Bonardi. Newmarket Celtics Hayes stepped up confidently and put the current champions ahead with ease. The half ended in somewhat comfortable fashion for the Irish as O’Connell stood firm in the goal.
The second half seen the Italians start the stronger but in reality a scrappy half with plenty of fouls was on offer. O’Connell would go on to make further important saves as Ireland jumped to the top of group 7.
The best players on the day were O’Connell in the goal but Newmarket Celtic pair Hayes and Kelly played pivotal parts in this win.
The draw between Slovenia & Macedonia has Ireland in fantastic position to make the finals in june also as that match ended goalless.
Only one team qualifies from each group so every game is like a cup final and Ireland now play Macedonia on Friday and Slovenia on Sunday as they move forward in their defence of this coveted title.
Stoppagetime.ie Man of the Match: Eoin Hayes