MU16 | Ireland lift the Victory Shield with win over Northern Ireland
Goals from Grady McDonnell, Michael Noonan and Billy O’Neill secured Ireland’s 100 per cent record in this year’s edition of the tournament having beaten Scotland, Wales and neighbours Northern Ireland.
It was a fourth win of the title, and a fourth win of the competition for Head Coach Paul Osam, since they entered the tournament in 2015. Only England and Scotland have won more titles than the Boys in Green since the competition began.
Ireland came into the game high on confidence having retained their title in dramatic fashion against hosts Wales on Wednesday, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 through a last minute Muhammed Oladiti penalty.
And their confidence showed as they led through a header from McDonnell in the 4th minute after an excellent corner from Max Kovalevskis.
The Vancouver Whitecaps playmaker almost scored from another header 10-minutes later but this time his effort flashed just wide.
With almost 30 minutes on the clock Northern Ireland were level when Glen McCourt went through on goal to fire past Alex Noonan.
In the second half Ireland regained the lead early on. Michael Noonan netting his seventh goal of this international season with a fine header from another excellent Kovalevskis cross.
Noonan could have added to his tally in the 63rd minute when he got on the end of a Brody Lee cross and with the keeper beaten he just couldn’t direct his effort on target.
With three minutes to go Billy O’Neill scored a beautiful curling effort to wrap up the win – his first goal of the international season.
Speaking after the game Osam reflected the tournament: "The players have been excellent, the staff have been excellent. I think anyone watching on LOITV would have seen we have dominated all three games. It's all from the hard work from schoolboy clubs, LOI Academy teams and the work gone in at Under-15s at international level too.
"Over the games we had a lot of possession but we had the structure. It shows our side are on the front foot and teams are paying us respect that they know when they come up against an Irish side they know if they press us we can play through the thirds and I'm pleased we have earned that reputation. The progression of our teams over the last couple years has been amazing and we can't stop, we have to continue to build.
"Overall this week is the perfect outcome. Every player played, we were able to work on each player's development and they've come into a tough tournament and won which is a great experience for them as they get ready for competitive international football next season."
Northern Ireland: Beimers, Watson, McCann, McDonnell, Savage, Atherton, Burns, O’Neill, Leacock, McCourt, Eldred
Substitutes: Robinson, Charnley, Feeney, Coyle, Anderson, Moran, Faloona, Hamilton, Thompson
Ireland: A.Noonan (Topcu, 41’), Oladiti, Steward, McDonagh, Finneran (C), McDonnell (Skoubo-Keely, 63’), Hayes (Sherlock, 55), Lee (O’Neill, 63’), Kovalevskis, McEvoy (Martos, 55’), M. Noonan (Tollett, 70’)
Referee: John Jones (Wales)
Republic of Ireland Men’s Under-16s – Victory Shield Results
Monday, November 6 | Ireland 1-0 Scotland
Wednesday, November 8 | Wales 2-3 Ireland
Saturday, November 11 | Northern Ireland 1-3 Ireland