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.”

More in this Section

Home thoughts from abroadHome thoughts from abroad

At war for the survival of Rugby CountryAt war for the survival of Rugby Country

Bournemouth end long wait for a win at SouthamptonBournemouth end long wait for a win at Southampton

City boss Fenn still looking for first win; Dundalk close in on titleCity boss Fenn still looking for first win; Dundalk close in on title


Lifestyle

Gráinne Healy only started running regularly a few years ago. She’s already completed 50 parkruns. She tells Rowena Walsh what motivates her.Ageing with Attitude: Parkruns and quiet Friday nights

Against popular wisdom and flying a plane made from bamboo, wire and bike handlebars, a Co Antrim woman blazed a sky trail for aviation and for the independence of women, writes Bette BrowneMagnificent Lilian Bland blazed a trail for independence of women in her plane of bamboo

The epic battle for the bridge at Arnhem, as depicted in the blockbuster 'A Bridge Too Far', saw the Allies aim to end the war by Christmas 1944, but failed as a huge airborne assault force failed to take the last bridge across the Rhine. In an extract from his latest book 'A Bloody Week', Dan Harvey tells the story of one of the hundreds of brave men from Ireland who gave their all to the Allied campaignThe bridge to war: Dan Harvey's new book looks at the Irish who went a bridge too far

Several days ago, the long-awaited sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was released.Lindsay Woods: I have always consumed books at a furious pace

More From The Irish Examiner