Savannah McCarthy

Ireland Women’s Under 19s aiming to finish on a high

Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 19s have already secured a place in the UEFA European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers but they still want to top their qualifying group.

Dave Connell’s team take on Russia today (KO 3.00pm) in their final First Phase qualifier to decide who will claim first spot in Group 10. If they can win that and then get through the Elite Phase qualifiers, they will make it to next summer’s tournament in Slovakia.

A 1-1 draw with Slovenia last Tuesday was overturned following the fielding of an ineligible player for the host team and Ireland were awarded a 3-0 victory, which added to their 6-0 win over Bulgaria.

Now, they want to make it three wins in a row. Defender Lucy McCartan certainly believes that they can achieve that as their confidence is high following their last two performances.

“We definitely want to get nine points. Russia look good and they won their two games, 4-0 and 7-1, so they can score goals, but hopefully we can beat them,” said McCartan.

“We know that we are through to the Elite Phase, but if we finish top of the group that means we will be top seeds going into the draw and that could help us when those qualifiers come around.”

McCartan was part of the Ireland Women’s Under 17 team – known as the ‘ice Queens’ – who competed in this past summer’s UEFA European Championships in Iceland and that experience has left her wanting more.

It is a similar feeling for some of her teammates who played for Connell’s ‘History Girls’ in the 2014 finals in Norway; they all want to test themselves against Europe’s elite again.

“We have a great team and the senior girls, like Savannah (McCarthy) and Megan (Connolly), are great leaders. Then we have the younger players coming up from the Under 17s, so we have a good blend,” said McCartan.

“We all want to get to another finals – that would be brilliant. We feel that we have played well in our two games so far in these qualifiers but we want to top the group and that means beating Russia on Sunday.”

There are no injury concerns for Connell, so he has a full squad to pick from for what should be a difficult final First Phase qualifying game.

FIXTURES/RESULTS

Republic of Ireland WU19 3-0 Slovenia, Tuesday, September 15

Republic of Ireland WU19 6-0 Bulgaria, Thursday, September 17

Republic of Ireland WU19 v Russia, Sunday, September 20, KO 3.00pm, Gornja Radgona, Slovenia

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