The Republic of Ireland qualified for their first UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals in nine years with a convincing defeat of Italy.
Ireland went into the elite round Group 4 decider in Poland two points behind their opponents but goals from Connor Murphy, substitute Sean Murray and John O' Sullivan sealed victory against a side who ended with nine men. Paul Doolin's team will compete in Romania from 20 July and in the draw in Bucharest on 8 June join the hosts, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Greece, Serbia and two further teams to be decided next week.
After a quiet start Ireland fired a warning shot on 16 minutes when Declan Walker tested Francesco Bardi. The Italy goalkeeper now found himself having to work hard as Ireland took over the game and they were ahead on 32 minutes when Murphy lost his marker and lobbed Bardi from the edge of the box.
It was nearly 2-0 early in the second half when O'Sullivan broke through but Bardi stood firm. However, Italy's defence was breached again just past the hour as Murray – introduced not long after the break – was sent clear and calmly beat Bardi.
Italy's sole chances to reduce arrears came in the 69th minute as Pietro Iemmello was denied first by Ireland goalkeeper Aaron McCarey and then captain John Egan. All doubts were removed nine minutes from time when Murphy's free-kick was chested on to O'Sullivan, who made no mistake from five metres.
Late on both Cristiano Biraghi and Mario Sampirisi were sent off but Italy's hopes of a third qualification in four seasons were already gone.
From the FAI website
UEFA Under-19 European Championship elite stage qualifier
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Italy
The Republic of Ireland have qualified for the European Championship Under-19 finals in July after recording an impressive 3-0 win over Italy today (Sunday) in Kolobrzeg, Poland.
Four points from their first two matches left Ireland needing to defeat mini-group leaders Italy in their final game to secure the one qualifying berth into the finals to be held on July 20-August 1.
Conor Murphy fired Ireland ahead on the half hour before substitute Sean Murray and Joe Shaughnessy added two more in the second half to clinch the victory and qualification. Italy finished with 9 players after having two sent-off in the final stages.
An Ireland side which showed two changes due to suspensions of Anthony O'Connor and Eoin Wearen were quickly into the action.
Francesco Bardi in the Italian goal had to be on his guard to foil a stinging shot by Irish midfielder Declan Walker on 16 minutes.
There was little the Livorno ‘keeper could do just past the half hour when Murphy hared onto a through ball and lifted it over the advancing custodian for the precious opener.
For the third game running, John O'Sullivan was at his brilliant best again and worked Bardi with another effort shortly after the restart when he was put clear on goal.
But Ireland wouldn't have long to wait for another opening and when Kevin Knight picked out fellow substitute Sean Murray with a cross, the Watford youngster showed tremendous composure to slot home.
Italy nearly halved the arrears ten minutes later when Aaron McCarey's crossbar was clipped with a shot that deflected off John Egan.
That proved to be the only scare though as Joe Shaughnessy made the game safe by rattling the net with a shot inside the box after Conor Murphy had set up the Aberdeen defender.
REP OF IRELAND: McCarey (Wolves); Doherty (Wolves), Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Egan (Sunderland), Williams (Aston Villa); Walker (Wrexham), O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers), Hendrick (Derby County), Carruthers (Aston Villa); Forde (Wolves), Murphy (Bray Wanderers).
Substitutions: Knight (Leicester City) for Forde (h/t), Murray (Watford) for Walker (48), Lopez (Bohemians) for Carruthers (90).