Irish U17 Women looking for top spot in Serbia
The Republic of Ireland U17 Women’s squad want to finish on top of Group 4 at their UEFA European U17 Women’s Championship Qualifying Round mini-tournament in Serbia according to skipper Jamie Finn.
The Irish girls secured qualification for the Elite Phase on Sunday when they followed up their 2-0 win over Lithuania with a 2-0 victory over Romania and they are now hoping to make it three wins from three when they play hosts Serbia tomorrow in Subotica,
“We came here looking for three wins, even if they were only 1-0 wins. It is very important for us to get the nine points. There is no pressure on us now because we have qualified but we want to top the group,” said Finn who was part of the U17 Women’s squad that qualified for the Elite Phase last season in Russia.
“We know Serbia are a good team who like to pass the ball and work hard but they need a point to qualify so the pressure is on them. We are going out there to show them what we can do and get three wins out of three.”
For Finn it’s been a hugely significant week as the win over Lithuania, where she was one of the scorers in a 2-0 win, marked her return to action after a four month lay-off with a stress fracture that also saw her miss out on Shelbourne’s FAI Women’s U16 Final victory over Peamount United and the Irish U19s journey to the semi-finals of the European Championships in Norway.
“To be out for four months and then to be playing for your country in your first match back was a great feeling. But to also be captain for the first time and to also score my first international goal made it very special. I was surprised when Dave asked me to be captain. There is a lot of responsibility as captain but you have to enjoy it and try and be a leader on and off the pitch,” said Finn.
Manager Dave Connell paid tribute to Finn, for the way she has battled back from injury.
“Our medical team put a recovery plan together for her and she has done everything she has told to do. We have monitored her closely and she has shown what a great attitude she had. She has definitely come back stronger,” said Connell.
Finn along with Evelyn Daly and Courtney Higgins sat out training today as they recover from niggles but Saoirse Noonan, who missed the Romania game, and Eleanor Ryan-Doyle, who came off at half-time with a knock, both took a full part in training.
Substitute goalkeeper Nadine Ryan is the only player who hasn’t yet tasted action and Connell hopes to give her a run at some stage tomorrow.
“We’ve looking at getting her some game-time and giving some of the others who haven’t played too many minutes a run as well. We came here looking for three wins and that is still the plan even though a draw will be enough to guarantee us top spot. It’s not in our make-up to go looking for a draw.
“Serbia are a good team and can’t afford to lose tomorrow. They play good football and are very dangerous going forward so we are expecting a tough game,” said Connell.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD: Amanda McQuillan (Shelbourne), Courtney Higgins (Shelbourne), Dearbhaile Beirne (Shelbourne), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne), Nadine Ryan (Shelbourne), Sophie Watters (Shelbourne), Fiona Donnelly (Shelbourne), Eleanor Ryan-Doyle (Peamount United), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United), Lauryn O’Callaghan (Peamount United), Lucy McCartan (Peamount United), Danielle Murray (Peamount United), Niamh Prior (St Joseph’s), Evelyn Daly (Lakewood), Saoirse Noonan (Douglas Hall), Sarah McKevitt (Peake Villa), Chloe Maloney (Connolly Celtic), Aislinn Meaney (LIfford).
UEFA WU17 Championships Qualifying Round Group 4
Friday, October 17: Republic of Ireland 2 Lithuania 0, Serbia 1 Romania 1
Sunday, October 19: Republic of Ireland 2 Romania 0, Lithuania 1 Serbia 4
Wednesday, October 22
Romania v Lithuania, Gradski, Subotica (SRB), 1pm (Irish time)
Serbia v Republic of Ireland, Backa, Subotica (SRB), 1pm (Irish time)