REPORT | MU15 | Ireland 1-0 Austria
Jason Donohue’s team had booked their place in this semi-final by overcome Saudi Arabia - their second game in two days - with a strong 3-1 victory. And with such a hectic schedule, it was no surprise that the Irish boss rang the changes with just Oisin McDonagh retaining his place.
In the picturesque setting in Italy, The Boys in Green raced into a 1-0 lead following a sweeping move in which Ade Solanke burst down the left before laying it outside to Brody Lee who then put in a pinpoint cross onto the head of Noonan and the St. Patrick’s Athletic starlet did the rest by finishing expertly.
With the sun beaming down, the dry pitch didn't exactly lend itself to a slick surface for two good footballing teams to display their talents.
Minutes after the water break, it was almost two when Muhammad Oladiti delivered a devilishly whipped in swinging cross from the left wing, finding the head of the towering Noonan who saw his header skim the top of the bar.
The talented attacking trio of Lee, Noonan and Jaden Umeh were really getting into their grove causing their Austrian counter parts all sorts of trouble, but despite the strong opening period Ireland were served with a little reminder of the threat carried by their opponents when SK Rapid Wien youngster Edvin Rahmani got in down the inside right channel but narrowly missed the target with a powerful right footed strike.
The League of Ireland was well represented with 10 of the starting 11 playing domestically, one of which was Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Alex Noonan who had his palms stung by a well-struck Johannes Moser hit from 25-yards out, minutes after the restart.
The Irish side looked relatively comfortable protecting their one-goal lead as the second half progressed, keeping Austria at bay whilst carrying an attacking threat of their own. Substitute Goodness Ogbonna showed excellent feet in the middle of the park, working his way towards the edge of the box but couldn’t connect with a left footed drive.
Fellow substitute Oskar Skoubo Keely was quick as a flash onto the rebound but again saw his shot well blocked.
Ireland worked extremely hard to nullify their opponents, not allowing them to build up a head of steam in the final minutes and could have gotten another themselves late on when Rory Finneran showed great anticipation to win the ball in the middle of the park before driving to the edge of the area, then showing great awareness to tee up Grady McDonnell on the right side but just as the Vancouver Whitecaps winger went to strike, saw the ball bobble up and float just wide.
It was a job very well done and the talented youngsters can begin their all-important recovery ahead of Monday's Final, with tournament Hosts Italy facing Slovenia later today.
Republic of Ireland: Alex Noonan, Christian Coyle (Daniel Costello), Sam Steward, Oisin McDonagh, Ade Solanke, Rory Finneran, Muhammad Oladiti (Oskar Skoubo Keely), Ramon Martos (Goodness Ogbonna), Brody Lee (Finn Sherlock), Michael Noonan, Jaden Umeh (Grady McDonnell).
Austria: Paulo Gmeiner, Rafel Feldinger, Alexander Joksimovic, Jakob Pokorny, Sergej Savic, Johannes Moser (Nicolas Jozepovic), Vasilije Markovic, Loris Husic, Kenny Nzongang, Edvin Rahmani, Luca Narr (Clemens Kerschbaumer).