Republic of Ireland WU17s face Dutch in key UEFA encounter
After their sensational victory over England in their opening game of the UEFA WU17 Championships Elite Qualifying Phase on Thursday evening, the Republic of Ireland could take a massive step closer to qualifying for the finals against the Netherlands this afternoon.
Dave Connell’s talented Irish youngsters showed their class in a 2-0 victory over the English but will be well aware that the Dutch were on fire in a 5-1 win over Hungary earlier the same day.
Victory for either side at Turner’s Cross (3.00pm) would be a giant leap towards qualifying for the finals in Iceland this summer.
Connell was buoyant after goals from Eleanor Ryan-Doyle and Saoirse Noonan secured the three points against England but was confident his side had the quality to surprise their visitors.
“I thought we deserved the victory. England played well and had a lot of possession and a lot of shots but we restricted them to long range efforts. We worked tremendously hard,” he said.
“It was a brilliant all-round performance from the girls. We worked hard and knew exactly what way England would play. We prepared for that for the last two weeks and it paid off with the win.
“We scored two excellent goals. It’s always nice winning games and always nice beating England but we did it in style I thought.
“Eleanor’s goal was a great goal after beating two players and an excellent finish. Soairse Noonan’s goal was also a fantastic effort. It probably took a deflection but she was also unlucky not to score with her header too. She’s still U17 again next year which is astounding. She showed an awful lot of maturity.
“People can say what they want but we know we’re a good side and we’ve prepared the girls well. The Dutch are another great side and we saw them against Hungary but we’ll be prepared for them.”
Midfielder Evelyn Daly suffered a knee injury and has gone for an MRI so Ireland will wait on that before naming their side.
“We looked at their game and the Dutch are a good side. They’ve a lot of good players with plenty of good movement,” said Connell.
“It’ll be more of the same from us. It’ll be a case of working hard together to be difficult to play through. The girls understand what is expected of them.
“We know the way the Netherlands like to play. We have to work hard to counteract their attack and then when we’re on the ball not to give it away cheaply.
“We’re not playing for anything other than to try and win the game. If we can do that it would look like we’ll be in a very good position to go through. The girls are very relaxed and determined to go through. We know the Dutch are physically strong and dangerous from set-pieces but we’re looking for a similar challenge to what we produced on Thursday.”