Irish start UEFA Regions Cup campaign with Italian win
The Irish side secured a 1-0 win thanks to a first half penalty from Eoin Hayes and sit top of Group 7 as North-East Macedonia and Maribor drew 0-0 in the other game in the group.
Irish head coach Gerry Davis was delighted with his side's start to Ireland's defence of the trophy they won for the first time last summer.
Hayes fired home from the spot in the 21st minute after David Joyce was fouled in the penalty area by Matteo Bonardi.
Then Hayes had a chance to extend the lead when he shot narrowly wide on the half hour before Irish keeper Brendan O'Connell made a decent stop to deny Nicolo Pagnano three minutes later.
"It was a tough game. We defended well. They started off being quite direct and we had to stand firm then they changed to a more patient build-up which caused problems with their movement," said Davis.
"David Joyce won the penalty after a brilliant run that they couldn't handle. Eoin Hayes finished it really well and was unlucky not to add a second when he shot just wide.
"The Italians were excellent and Brendan made a couple of good stops but he made one great save from a spectacular first half over-head kick that looked certain to go in.
"Our centre-backs Mark Horgan and Stephen Kelly did extremely well. Their coach was very complimentary about them.
"Our midfield screened the back four so well. The players worked so hard. I've been involved at this level for ten years and the Italians were as good a side as we've played so this is a really good result.
"Overall it was an absolutely magnificent performance and fantastic result given the quality of the opponents and the fact that we haven't had an enormous amount of time together. Now we'll rest, look at the videos of this game and look at the North-East Macedonia-Maribor game."
LOMBARDIA: Paolo Trilli, Chijioke David Aranotu, Matteo Bonardi, Andrea Bono, Cristian Cassinelli, Ivan Colombi, Fabio Filadelfia, Mattia Isella, Emanuele Monetti (Christian Talon 63), Nicolo Pagano (Maguette Fall 46), Fabio Torri.
MUNSTER CONNACHT: Brendan O'Connell, Christopher Higgins, Stephen Kelly, Mark Horgan, James Carr (Conor Griffin 83), Shane Daly-Butz, Eugene O'Donovan, Daniel O'Neill, David Joyce (Andrew Gannon 78), Eoin Hayes, David Hoban (Steven Bradley 68)
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 v MNZ Maribor, Stadio Ernesto Breda, San Giovanni (ITA) (2.30pm)
North-East Macedonia v Munster Connacht, Centro Sportivo Comunale, Inveruno (ITA) (2.30pm)
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)