Irish chase double in Madeira

The Republic of Ireland U21s can win the Madeira Invitational Tournament for the second time in two years with victory against Portugal at the Estadio de Machico tomorrow.

Irish boss Don Givens led his side to success in the same competition in 2004 but has admitted he did not expect to do so well in this year’s event after losing 13 of the original 20 players he selected.

He said: “If we could do it, it would be even better than the last time. There have been so many pull-outs and people have been coming late or going early, which makes it hard to get the balance right.

“It would be amazing if we could come home with the trophy but even if we don’t then there are some people who have done very well.”

Givens will not be able to call upon the services of striker Andy Keogh, who has returned to Scunthorpe, as had been agreed with his club in advance of the competition.

Celtic defender Darren O’Dea joined the squad after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Finland, which put the Irish level with Portugal at the head of the four-team group.

Ireland drew 1-1 with tournament hosts Madeira on Tuesday and the islanders held Portugal to a scoreless draw yesterday.

Givens said: “It’s a cup final now. We’re not the favourites by a long way but Portugal are going in on the back of a disappointing result while we’re going in after a good result. That might make a difference.”

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