REPORT | MU15 | Ireland beat Italy to win tournament
A first-half goal from St. Patrick's Athletic's Billy Hayes and a second-half winner from his club mate Michael Noonan were enough for Jason Donohue's side to claim the win over the hosts.
The tournament win ends an impressive season for the young Boys in Green with the victory over Italy their 10th win in a row since November. Of those in the squad, 18 currently play in the EA Sports LOI Academy.
Ireland's preparations for the game suffered a knock back when they were forced into a late change with Noonan coming in for Bray Wanderers' Billy O’Neill.
The hosts started the stronger of the teams with Ali Topcu forced into a superb save after six minutes. He was called into action again just before the quarter-hour when he got down low to palm an effort behind for a corner.
Those saves proved crucial as midway through the first half Ireland were ahead. Finn Sherlock picked out a pass to Hayes and the two exchanged passes. Sherlock was able to get wide and cut it back to Hayes on the edge of the area to strike home.
But just before half-time the hosts were level. Topcu made another smart save but Empoli's Thomas Campaniello was able to react fastest to poke the ball home for the Azzuri.
At the break Donohoe made three changes with Brody Lee coming on for Max Kovalevskis, Jaden Umeh for Billy Hayes and Alex Noonan for Topcu
Shortly after the break those changes had an impact. Lee got down the left and delivered a cross for Noonan to head home from close range - his eighth international goal of the season.
Ireland had a golden chance to wrap up the game when they were awarded a penalty in the 68th minute but Alessandro Longoni's out-stretched leg kept Noona's spot kick out and the score remained 2-1.
The penalty miss galvanised Italy who piled on the pressure late on. Alex Noonan was forced into a good save when a sweet volley from Simone Lontani looked to be heading into the bottom corner but Noonan held on.
That was would be the final clear chance with the referee's final whistle setting off wild celebrations for the young Irish side.
Speaking after the game Head Coach Jason Donohue said: "This is a fantastic win and I'm so proud of all the players and the staff. This comes from so much hard work taking place in our League of Ireland Academies and at grassroots level and we can't forget that.
"The players were terrific today. The squad depth we have means we could go play four different line-ups for the four games and they have gone and delivered in each game.
"There's an amazing bond between the players, they get on really well, and they went into this final believing they could win it and they have gone and delivered."
Italy: Longoni, Semino, Natali (C), Reggiani, Bagordo, Zanaga, Campaniello, Prisco, Lontani, Damiano, Calvani. Substitutes: Farronato, Marello, Ballabio, Busiello, Tavanti, Noah Bovio, Palma, Comotto, Pirro', Blini
Ireland: Topcu (A. Noonan, 41), Oladiti (Coyle, 65), Steward (McDonagh, 75), McGrath, Sherlock, Finneran (C), Skoubo Keeley, Dunne (Martos, 22), Hayes (Umeh, 41), Kovalevskis (Lee, 41), M. Noonan
Torneo della Nazioni
April 25 | Ireland 3-1 Czechia
April 26 | Ireland 3-1 Saudi Arabia
April 29 | Ireland 1-0 Austria
May 1 | Italy 1-2 Ireland
Republic of Ireland Men’s Under-15 Squad
Goalkeepers: Alex Noonan (Shamrock Rovers), Ali Topcu (Shelbourne)
Defenders: Christian Coyle (Bohemians), Tayo Dunne (U.S Cap d’Ail Monaco), Oisin McDonagh (Shamrock Rovers), Cead McGrath (Finn Harps), Muhammad Oladiti (Shamrock Rovers), Ade Solanke (Shamrock Rovers), Sam Steward (St.Patrick’s Athletic)
Midfielders: Daniel Costello (Bohemians), Rory Finneran (Blackburn Rovers), Ramon Martos (Almeria), Grady McDonnell (Vancouver Whitecaps), Goodness Ogbonna (Shamrock Rovers), Oskar Schubo Keeley (Bohemians), Finn Sherlock (Shelbourne)
Forwards: Billy Hayes (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Max Kovalevskis (Shamrock Rovers), Brody Lee (Shamrock Rovers), Michael Noonan (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Billy O'Neill (Bray Wanderers), Jaden Umeh (Cork City)