Ireland are 90 minutes away from marking their first appearance at the finals for nine years with a place in Monday’s final at Chiajna. However, the air of confidence which has followed the Spanish side dominated by Real Madrid starlets throughout the tournament had one of their playmakers forecasting a simple recipe for success yesterday.
“Ireland are a very physical team and are well-placed on the field,” Real Sociedad midfielder Rubén Pardo.
“We have to play as we know, by moving the ball from side to side. In the end, spaces and players will come and we will not miss the goal.”
Aberdeen’s Galway native Shaughnessy, though, doesn’t indulge the decorated status of tonight’s opposition.
“I’ve heard things about their players but we’ve a good group and that’s all that matters to me,” said the 19-year-old.
“We’ve seen team lists and the standard of clubs they’re at — yet a lot of our lads are at Premier League clubs in England.”
Fighting talk indeed from Shaughnessy but not surprising given the confidence within the Ireland camp. Doolin cut a more measured figure, pointing out his team has overcome difficult propositions in the campaign.
“We are under no illusion. It’s a very tough game ahead,” said the manager.
“We are in the same situation as we were when we had to beat Italy to qualify. The Italians are no pushovers.
“This is a one-off game. The tournament is different now.”
Viewers watching the semi-final tonight on RTÉ can expect Ireland to adopt a patient approach.
“We’ve got to be very careful that we don’t think: ‘ah, we’ll take these on’,” added former Cork City and Drogheda United manager Doolin.
“If the game is open, there is no better team — whether it is Spain, Barcelona or Real Madrid, they are very good on the counter.”
With right-back Matt Doherty suspended, Declan Walker of Wrexham is expected to deputise in defence while up front Connor Smith may replace Conor Murphy.