Roma McLaughlin

McLaughlin sets sights on Ireland Women’s Under 19s topping group

With one more obstacle to overcome, Roma McLaughlin believes that the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 19s can achieve their target of topping their Qualifying Round group in FYR Macedonia.

Twelve goals scored and six points collected have propelled Dave Connell’s team to the top of Group 2 – following a 10-0 victory over FYR Macedonia and a 2-0 win against Wales – but they still have Italy to face off against on Sunday afternoon.

Before they left Dublin to land in Skopje, Connell had informed his squad that he wanted them to return home with three wins from three games and a top seed ranking. After an impressive start, it’s now time to finish the job.

It is why midfield dynamo McLaughlin delivers the same message when pressed on what is motivating a team that has already secured qualification to the Elite Round.

“The objective when we came out here was nine points, so we know that we have to beat Italy to complete that. We are pushing to top the group,” said McLaughlin.

“If we top the group we have a better chance of avoiding the bigger teams in the Elite Round, but we also want to show the rest of Europe that we are a good side and that we are in the mix for the finals.”

The next round of games don’t roll around until March 2017, so McLaughlin & Co are determined to do all that they can to ensure that they put themselves in the best possible position to reach next summer’s finals in Northern Ireland.

Part of the strategy behind that has been the introduction of new players, like Alex Kavanagh and Leanne Kiernan, who have scored eight goals between them in two games. No wonder McLaughlin is quick to highlight their strength in depth.

“I think the two games that we’ve played, against Macedonia and Wales, have showed that we have goalscorers throughout the team and that’s a big asset for us to have,” explained the Donegal native.

“When we played in the Under 17 finals in Iceland we struggled to get shots on target, but we’ve now addressed that. And the likes of Alex (Kavanagh) and Leanne (Kiernan) have added to that.

“This is probably the closest squad that I have been involved with and it definitely helps that we all get on together off the pitch. We just have to keep it going now and get the win against Italy.”

Sunday, October 23: Republic of Ireland v Italy, Boris Trajkovski, Skopje, KO 13:30


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