Eleanor Ryan

Women’s U17s qualify for Elite Phase – Republic of Ireland 2 Romania 0

The Republic of Ireland Women’s U17 team today qualified for the Elite Phase of the 2014-15 UEFA European Women’s U17 Championships with a game to spare.

Goals from Niamh Farrelly and Sarah McKevitt saw Dave Connell’s side beat Romania 2-0 in Serbia to leave them on full points from two games in their Qualifying Round mini-tournament. Ireland now play hosts Serbia, who beat Lithuania 4-1, on Wednesday knowing that a draw will see them top the Group 4.

Connell made just one change from the side which defeated Lithuania in Friday’s opener with Farrelly coming in for the injured Saoirse Noonan and it proved to be an inspired choice as the Peamount United midfielder fired Ireland into the lead after 18 minutes with an exceptional goal.

Farrelly showed great anticipation to intercept a kick-out by Romania goalkeeper Georgiana Darle and, after controlling the ball on her chest, she unleashed a 35 yard volley that screamed over the head of the keeper and into the back of the net.

That goal eased the Irish nerves and Eleanor Doyle had a great opportunity in the 32nd minute to added a second when sent clear but she shot straight at the keeper.

Like Friday, this was a game Ireland dominated and they created 14 chances, hit the target seven times and forced nine corners but could only manage one more goal and that came in the 56 minute when Dearbhaile Beirne broke the left, skipped past two players and crossed to the far post where Sarah McKevitt showed great skill in firing the ball first time past the keeper from an acute angle for her second goal in two games.

“It was a good win,” said Connell afterwards. “We dominated the game from start to finish and the only disappointment would be that, like Friday, we didn’t score more goals. But we kept a clean sheet, we won the game and we’ve qualified for the Elite Phase with a game to spare so the girls have done very well in what was their first taste of competitive football at international level.”

Striker Eleanor Doyle is likely to miss the top of the table clash with Serbia on Wednesday after coming off at half-time with a knock but she another good game leading the Irish attack as did her replacement Danielle Murray. The defence, ably marshalled by skipper Jamie Finn and goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan also performed well while midfielder Courtney Higgins and winger McKevitt were others to impress in what was an excellent team performance.

Ireland: Amanda McQuillan; Lauryn O’Callaghan, Jamie Finn, Chloe Moloney, Niamh Prior (Waters 61) ; Niamh Farrelly (Lucy McCartan 52), Courtney Higgins, Evelyn Daly; Sarah McKevitt, Eleanor Doyle (Danielle Murray 41), Dearbhaile Beirne.

Romania: Darle; Boros, Meluta, Peter, Moraru, Bartalis (Petre 41), Blidar (Grecu 41, Rus 56), Popa, Clolacu, Indrei, Biro.

Referee: Liudmyla Petrova (Ukraine).

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