Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 17s top group to qualify.
Turkey WU17 0-3 Republic of Ireland WU17
The Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 17s qualified for the Elite Round of the UEFA European Championships by topping Group 1 with a 3-0 win over Turkey on Tuesday.
Dave Bell’s team required a point from their final Qualifying Round game in Izmir but took all three courtesy of goals from Leanne Kiernan, Alex Kavanagh, and Lauren Kelly.
Ireland had previously beaten Ukraine and Andorra to move in pole position in a tricky group but they showed their quality to overcome their hosts and take a step closer to next summer’s finals in Belarus.
“The girls have really come on as a group and they worked so hard to top the group. I’m really proud of them and it’s a great achievement,” said Bell.
“This is the first stepping stone towards the finals. The next thing is the draw for the Elite Round and once we know our opponents we can start preparing for those games.
“But the girls have been brilliant. I had a really difficult task in picking a team for each game and any of the girls could have made the starting XI. All 18 girls got to play and that shows the strength of this squad.
“We scored some great goals but we also didn’t concede any. When we came here to Turkey the girls spoke about topping the group, getting the nine points, and not conceding any goals, so it’s a credit to them that they achieved that.”
Early goals proved to be a theme in Ireland’s three games and that was certainly the case against Turkey as Kiernan opened the scoring after just six minutes – pouncing on a loose ball in the penalty area.
Kavanagh doubled their lead with a superb curling effort into the back of the net on 35 minutes before Kelly finished things off with a neat finish in the second period after breaking free of her marker.
Bell was full of praise for his players after the victory, not just for their performance in the final qualifier but in their attitude around the team hotel, their professional approach to training, and their desire to win as a team.
“I’m delighted for them and couldn’t have asked for more,” said Bell after the game.
“We had a gameplan against Turkey and the girls put it into action. But we can’t think that we’ve made it to the finals yet. The hard work starts again after the draw but they have given themselves every chance of getting to the finals now.”
The draw for the Elite Round will take place on December 10 with the games being hosted early next year.
Turkey: Bedriye Cam; Derya Arhan, Sagre Ozturk, Sabiha Uyaner, Rabia Civan; Esra Manya (Ceren Akkaya 23), Ece Turkoglu, Bilge Su Koyun (Vehpiye Azak 67), Eda Goren (Sedanur Incik 76), Nursen Yaprak; Birgul Sadikoglu.
Republic of Ireland: McAloon; Reddy, O’Gorman, Doyle, Green; Ruddy (Craven 41), Farrelly (Reybet-Degat 48), Kavanagh; O’Callaghan (Payne 63), Kelly, Kiernan.
Referee: Valentina Garoffolo (Italy).
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Ukraine, Thursday, October 15, Izmir
Republic of Ireland 7-0 Andorra, Saturday, October 17, Izmir
Turkey 0-3 Republic of Ireland, Tuesday, October 20, Izmir
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: TURKEY 0-3 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND