Clinical Finland eliminate IRLWU19’s in Elite Round
The Republic of Ireland ended their UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship Elite Round with a three-one defeat, despite a spirited performance against Finland.
Ireland produced their best forty-five minutes of the Elite Round in the opening half. With the numerical advantage in midfield, Roma McLaughlin, Lucy McCartan and Alex Kavanagh dictated play and controlled the tempo.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Dave Connell said he felt the scoreline didn’t reflect the game at all. He explained:
“It was a funny game. Hitting the woodwork four times and creating a couple of really good clear-cut chances that we failed to put away – we were unlucky. There was no way that was a three-one game, even the Finnish manager said it. The difference was that they put their chances away.”
Connell’s charges created a glorious opportunity just six minutes into the contest, when brilliant feet from Alex Kavanagh afforded her space to slip Leanne Kieran through on goal. Her effort appeared goalbound but rattled the underside of the crossbar, and was eventually cleared by the Finnish backline.
Despite the excellent start, Finland hit the front on twenty-six minutes. A corner from the right-hand-side was delivered into the danger area. Juuli Ketola rose highest to head towards goal and her effort smacked off the underside of the crossbar. The assistant referee on the near side indicated the ball had crossed the line, much to the dismay of Ireland ‘keeper Amanda McQuillan.
Leanne Kiernan had a great chance to level matters early in the second half when she charged down the right. Her shot could only find the side-netting though. From here, Ireland were punished. Emmaliina Tulkki’s cross from the left found Eveliina Summanen at the back post and her low drive beat McQuillan.
Five minutes later, they would move further ahead. Breaking from an Ireland corner, Jutta Rantala gained possession shy of the halfway line. From here, she jinked past a defender before smashing a brilliant strike into the far corner to put the result beyond doubt.
Niamh Prior ended the campaign on a positive note however – giving the Markets Field crowd a moment to remember when her thirty-five yard free kick rocketed into the net with three minutes left on the clock. Roma McLaughlin was dissmissed in injury time after receiving a second yellow from Croatian referee Ivana Martincic.
Connell believed that while they didn’t achieve their overall goal of qualification, his players deserve a lot of credit.
“We wanted to do better in the Elite Round – we wanted to do it on our home soil. Maybe we didn’t get the rub of the green. We had a few injuries coming into it – we hadn’t the ideal preparation coming, but that’s football. We won’t make any excuses. I’m very proud of them for all their efforts and I’d like to thank them for everything,” he said.
Nine hundred and thirty two was the official attendance on the day, but the Elite Round had been well received on Shannonside, with a lot of interest locally. Closing with praise for the city, Connell complimented everything Limerick had to offer both himself and his squad.
“It was great that the FAI decided to come down here. I’d like to thank everyone – the facilities have been great – the pitch, the hotel – everything. It was great to hear the national anthem be sung out with such enthusiasm. I’d like to thank the people of Limerick,” he finished.
Republic of Ireland: McQuillan; Finn, Farrelly (Craven, 85), Moloney, Nolan (Beirne, 66); Kavanagh (Kelly, 77), McCartan; Kiernan, McLaughlin, Prior; Noonan.
Finland: Rajatalo; Lehtola, Pikkujamsa, Schrey, Pietikainen (Toivanen, 46); Rinkinen (Rousti, 90), Tulkki, Summanen, Mikkola; Rantala, Ketola (Lappalainen, 55).
Referee: I Martincic (CRO)
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