The Republic of Ireland Women’s U17 squad kick-off their UEFA Women’s U17 Championship qualifying round tomorrow in Serbia with a game against Lithuania.
Head coach Dave Connell and his squad flew out to Serbia today after a four day training camp in Dublin and the Irish manager is confident that his side can get off to a good start.
“There is nothing easy at this stage but we have prepared well and hopefully that is enough,” said Connell.
After the disappointment of seeing the U19s fail to make the Elite Phase last month, Connell knows only too well nothing can be taken granted.
“We are aware of the pitfalls. The so-called weaker teams are getting stronger and we know we are in for three tough games this week.”
The squad is backboned by players from Metropolitan Girls League sides Shelbourne and Peamount United, who have dominated the national under-age scene in recent seasons, with Shels providing seven and Peamount five of the 18 strong squad.
“Obviously we would like to see the squad spread around the country but at the moment the Metropolitan League is the strongest in the country. Those girls would have come through the league centre and were also involved with the U16 squad in Switzerland earlier this year. But the whole squad is a good group and they all get on well together.”
In addition to Lithuania, Ireland will also face Romania and the hosts Serbia over the course of the mini-tournament. The winners and runners-up of the group will go through to the Elite Phase while the third-place team may also advance depending on how their record against the first and second-placed teams stacks up against the other groups.
The recent two friendlies against Denmark which resulted in a 1-0 win and a 5-3 defeat gave Connell plenty to work on over the last few days but the squad have also been boosted by the return to fitness of Amanda McQuillan, Jamie Finn and Chloe Maloney.
The only change from the original panel named last week sees Lifford’s Aislinn Meaney drafted in for Lagan Harps’ Zoe McGlynn who has had to withdraw with a hamstring injury.
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 v Lithuania, Gradski, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)
Serbia v Romania, Backa, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)
Sunday, October 19
Republic of Ireland v Romania, Backa, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)
Lithuania v Serbia, Gradski, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)
Wednesday, October 22
Romania v Lithuania, Gradski, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)
Serbia v Republic of Ireland, Backa, Subotica (SRB), 3pm (Irish time)