Republic of Ireland captain Tiegan Ruddy focused only on opening game

Republic of Ireland captain Tiegan Ruddy focused only on opening game

Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 17s face Serbia today

Qualification for the UEFA European Championships is never an easy feat to achieve, but Tiegan Ruddy reckons the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under 17s are ready to stake their claim for a place in the finals.

Dave Bell’s team have set out with a mission to win all three Elite Round games in Group 4 – against Serbia, Scotland and Hungary – to reach this summer’s tournament in Czech Republic. But nobody is looking beyond the first game.

Ask captain Ruddy about the team’s preparation and she replies with the clear message of being confident but respectful of their opponents, of being willing to fight for every ball, and of having spoken only of overcoming Serbia.

“We have been training well and we are looking strong with everyone pushing each other to be in that starting team to play Serbia. It’s a good atmosphere in the squad,” said Ruddy, pictured above with Tyler Toland.

“We are 100 per cent focused on Serbia. Nothing else matters right now other than Serbia. We know their strengths and their weaknesses, so we will be looking to exploit them. We have a game-plan which we will be sticking to.

“Every game at this stage of qualifying is crucial, but it’s all about the first game. We are going in with the intention of beating Serbia and getting off to the best possible start in the group.”

Ruddy, who recently joined Shelbourne Ladies, was part of the Ireland Under 17 squad last year when they fell short of qualification despite some brave performances in France. That memory has been driving her on ever since.

As one of the senior players in Bell’s squad, Ruddy has been encouraging her team-mates to do everything that they can to reach the finals tournament. She is not interested in finishing at this level with regrets.

“Last year was hard to take and I’ve told all of the girls that they won’t want to feel that way. But we have moved on, this is a new group of players and we are looking ahead,” said Ruddy.

“We know that if we can keep a clean sheet then we are going to score goals. We have a lot of dangerous players who can score goals and that is something that gives us confidence, but we have to work hard as a team.

“We are very positive about what we can do, but everything is about beating Serbia.”

Fixtures

13 March: Republic of Ireland v Serbia, Stara Pazova, Serbia, KO 13:00
15 March: Republic of Ireland v Scotland, Gradski Zemum, Serbia, KO 13:00
18 March: Republic of Ireland v Hungary, Gradski Zemum, Serbia, KO 13:00

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