Irish side qualify for UEFA Regions Cup Finals

Amateurs v Macedonia 034.JPG

Irish side qualify for UEFA Regions Cup Finals

THE Republic of Ireland's UEFA Regions Cup representatives Munster Connacht have qualified for next year's final tournament with a game to spare after a 2-0 win over North East Macedonia in the Italian town of Inveruno this afternoon.
30th Sep 2016

Gerry Davis's side scored a goal in each half to secure a second victory in two group games with Shane Daly-Butz and David Hoban finding the net. Ireland's representatives won this trophy last year.

Although the hosts Lombardia Regional FA beat Maribor 4-1 in the other game in the group, under the tournament rules the Irish side will progress on a head to head against the Italians even if they were to finish up level on six points.

Ireland started well with Mark Horgan testing North-East Macedonia keeper Bekim Redjepi in the ninth minute and ten minutes later Daly-Butz opened the scoring with a free-kicka after David Joyce had been fouled.

Irish keeper Brendan O'Connell made a 31st minute save to deny Dario Desnikj then seven minutes later was stretched again by Gjoko Aleksovski.

Three minutes later Joyce forced another save from Redjepi but Ireland did extend their lead four minutes into the second half when Hoban found the net with a brilliant header after an excellent cross by Daly-Butz.

Eoin Hayes was denied by the North-East Macedonia keeper in the 54th minute but his day was to end early when he was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 76th minute.

The Irish meet Maribor in their final game on Sunday in Carvaggio but the result will not impact on the final placings in the table.

"It was a brilliant performance against a very good side who I felt were the better side against the Slovenians. It was a tough game," said Davis.

"We scored a beautiful free-kick from Shane Daly-Butz - no keeper would have stopped it. The Macedonians won a lot of dangerous frees but we stayed in the game.

"The second goal came from a fantastic cross from Shane Daly-Butz and it was a fantastic header from David Hoban. After that we were very solid and after we were unfortunately

"It's a case of mission accomplished. What an achievement from all the players and staff - everybody has been so good to work with. We've got nine months to prepare for the finals now. We'll still prepare for Sunday's game looking to finish with nine points as I feel that's important after all the work put in."

NORTH-EAST MACEDONIA: Redjepi, Risteski, Nedevski, Aliu, Kotevski, Kurt (Kostadinovski 53), Aleksovski, Desnikj, Nikolovski, Mitevski (Shakjiri 79), Pecov (Serafimovski 67)

MUNSTER CONNACHT: O'Connell, Higgins, Kelly, Horgan, Carr, Daly-Butz (Murphy 88), O' Donovan, O'Neill, Joyce (Bradley 80), Hayes, Hoban (Gannon 79).

RESULTS & FIXTURES

UEFA Regions Cup Intermediary Round Group 7

September 28, 2016

MNZ Maribor 0-0  North-East Macedonia, CS Comunale Ferruccio, Seregno (ITA)

Lombardia Regional FA 0-1 Munster Connacht, Stadio Comunale, Gorgonzola (ITA)

September 30, 2016

Lombardia Regional FA 4-1 MNZ Maribor, Stadio Ernesto Breda, San Giovanni (ITA)

North-East Macedonia 0-2 Munster Connacht, Centro Sportivo Comunale, Inveruno (ITA)

October 2, 2016

North-East Macedonia v Lombardia Regional FA, Stadio Chinetti, Solbiate Arno (ITA) (2.30pm)

Munster Connacht v MNZ Maribor, Stadio Comunale 1, Carvaggio (ITA) (2.30pm)