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Ireland under 19's braced for semi-final challenge



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It was a hell of a trip, and the manager Tom Mohan, 19 of the Ireland manager insists his team are fully intent on expanding their stay at the European Championships in Armenia.

The Boys in Green are just 90 minutes away (Ireland West Portugal is live on RT2 on Wednesday, 14.45), but the size of the work at hand is considerable.

First of all, they had to design without captain Lee and conspiracy to inspire Jonathan Afolabi after the pair picked up contentious yellow cards in the 2-1 final group game over the Czech Republic.

Portugal, winners of the competition stand 12 months ago. The Portuguese tapped Group A, considering just one goal along and Mohan knows that they are a formidable outfit.

"We have seen their elite round qualifiers and their games in Armenia," he said.

"There is no question that they are one of the strongest teams in this year's tournament and we will have to produce another massive match to match them, but the group of players is not faced by anyone and we have one. Plenty of strength too. "

The manager says there is a "tremendous achievement" to reach the last four, but if an extra motivation is required, the disconnection of Oconorn and Afolabi by suspension will be the top of all their ideas.

The players and the staff want it for both Lee and Jonathan.

"This is really disappointing for the two boys who have been outstanding in every game for us, so we want to collectively do what we know so they will play in the final."

Jonathan Afolabi and equipment manager John Crudden watch in training

It was a physically demanding fortune, but Mohan insists his team will not suffer from any form of fatigue when taken to the Yerevan Stadium to face the Portuguese.

"A lot of work is done behind the scenes, in terms of recovery and preparation, so we feel ready for this game.

"The players have been doing great to reach this stage, but we want to go one better and get to the final."

Follow the Republic of Ireland in Portugal in the Under-19 European Championships semi-final (kick off 15:00) on Wednesday through the live blog on RTÉ.ie / Sports and the News Now app. Live TV coverage on RTÉ2 from 14.45.

Listen to the RTÉ Soccer Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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