Don Givens made history yesterday becoming the first Irish manager to win a tournament at under 21 level.
Givens joins Jack Charlton, Brian Kerr and Noel O Reilly as just the fourth Irish manager to bring silverware home from abroad when his depleted under 21 side won the Madeira International Tournament.
A 1-0 victory over Italy and a 4-0 win against Madeira yesterday,(Ireland 4-0 Madeira 2 goals from Doyle, 1 each from Paisley and Flood. Ireland win the tournament.) combined with a draw against Portugal, earned Ireland the title ahead of the Portuguese on goal difference.
It was a deserved win too. Ireland were consistently the best team during the three games, conceding no goals while scoring five and creating plenty of chances.
The victory was especially sweet for manager Don Givens. While several members of his squad have won trophies under Brian Kerr, Givens was still waiting for his first taste of silverware.
"It is great for the players and to be honest, it is special for me also," said a delighted Givens.
"It is a nice thing to come here and finish top. The boys got what they deserved and they can feel proud of what they achieved.
"The professionalism they have shown in all three games has been exceptional.
"I think to come here and in four days, get results against Portugal, Italy and Madeira without conceding a goal is something we have to be pleased with."
Before the game kicked off, Givens conceded that a victory, any victory, would please him and put the pressure on Portugal to beat Italy.
His thinking was based on the fact that he believed Italy would be difficult opposition for Portugal while he expected Madeira - who had drawn with Italy and lost narrowly to Portugal - to put up strong resistance against Ireland.
Neither materialised. Madeira were easily swept aside by Ireland while it was only late in the second half that Italian pride stopped Portugal possibly grabbing the 4-0 victory that they needed.
Irelands midfield quartet of Willo Flood, Glenn Whelan, Paul Keegan and Liam Kearney dominated the game seemingly picking out passes at will and giving Ireland a solid base upon which to build.
Captain Stephen Kelly had a good opportunity to put Ireland in front on nine minutes after being played through by Flood, but he dragged his shot across the face of goal, but was more a case of when rather than if Ireland could break the dead lock.
The opener finally arrived in the 23rd minute when Kevin Doyle finished confidently with his left foot from a tight angle after Kearneys clever pass and put him through on goal.
Doyle made it 2-0 on 31 minutes with a powerful near post header from a Flood cross after a wonderful passing move had released the winger and it looked like a cricket score might be on the cards.
Givens was ordered from the dugout moments later for protesting against a booking for Stephen Paisley but even without the manager directing operations, Ireland never rested on their laurels and continued to dominate their hapless opponents.
Whelan had an excellent opportunity from the penalty spot in the 36th minute after Yeates had been hacked down by Ruben Rodrigues, but the midfielder blazed over the bar.
But a third goal was always coming and after Kearney had a goal chalked off for offside, number three finally arrived in the 54th minute when Paisley ran in unchallenged to head home Keegans accurate free.
With 11 minutes remaining, Flood added a fourth with a clinical finish after racing onto Daryl Murphy s flick on to boost Irelands goal difference.
REP OF IRELAND: Henderson, (C Doyle 83); Kelly, Fitzgerald, Cooney, Paisley; Flood, Keegan , Whelan, Kearney (Deane 81); Doyle (Cogan 73), Yeates (Murphy ht).
GOAL: Willo Flood
Our Under-21s are playing in the Maderia tournament this week.
Portugal 0-0 Ireland. A good result, considering many of the players pulled out due to club commitments.
Portugal: Vale (Porto); Laranjeiro (UD Leiria), Castro (Coimbra), Ribeiro (Porto), Daniel (Chaves); Davide (Amadora), Vilas Boas (Porto), Afonso (Porto); Sergio (Coimbra), Edson (PSV Eindhoven), Martinho (Felgueiras).
Subs: Joao Paiva (Maritmo) for Edson, Faria (Louletano) for Vilas Boas (both half time), Calvino (Boavista) for Afonso (64 mins), Eliseu (Belenenses) for Martinho (69 mins), Organista (Porto) for Davide (75 mins).
Republic of Ireland: Henderson (Aston Villa); Kelly (Tottenham Hotspur), Fitzgerald (Blackburn Rovers), Paisley (Longford Town), Kohlmann (Borussia Dortmund); Flood (Manchester City), Keegan (Leeds United), Whelan (Manchester City), Foley (Liverpool); Doyle (Cork City), Yeates (Manchester City).
Subs: Deane (Charlton Athletic) for Flood, McStay (Leeds United) for Paisley (both half time), Bradley (Arsenal) for Yeates (68 mins), Murphy (Waterford United) for Doyle (76 mins
Republic of Ireland: (v Italy)
Henderson (Aston Villa); Kelly (Tottenham Hotspur), Cooney (Coventry City), Paisley (Longford Town), Kohlmann (Borussia Dortmund); Flood (Manchester City), Keegan (Leeds United), Foley (Liverpool), Kearney (Cork City); Murphy (Waterford United), Bradley (Arsenal).
Cooney, born in Australia, is making his Ireland debut. I think Murphy is, too. It is certainly his first start.
Match kicked off at 4:00 Irish Time, no word on a score.
Ireland 1-0 Italy.
A Liam Kearney goal on 81 minutes.