Ireland Schools secure John Read Cup
The late winner came courtesy of substitute Sophie Liston (Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, Newcastle West) right on the full time mark.
The game seemed to be destined for penalties as Jess Brown’s equaliser was forced home six minutes from time which cancelled out Zara Foley’s effort on 23 minutes but the Irish fought back to claim a historic win over reigning Bob Docherty Cup Champions England.
Lorraine Counihan’s side had a few notable absentees for this crunch encounter. The impressive Eabha O’Mahony (Mount Mercy College, Cork) was drafted into Dave Bell’s U17 squad for the UEFA European Championship Qualifiers in Serbia. Emily Whelan (Ardgillan CC, Balbriggan) had other sporting commitments and missed out on her International call up.
There was also late injury concerns as goalkeepers Ria McPhilbin (Coláiste Iognáid) and Courtney Maguire (St. Laurence's College, Loughlinstown) were ruled out. This however saw the reintroduction of Neve Scanlon (Deele College, Raphoe) and a welcome call up for newbie Maeve Williams (Abbey CC, Ferrybank) who starred for Munster at the Girls’ Interprovincial Tournament last November. Also returning to the fray was Emilia Koziel of Dominican College, Taylor’s Hill who missed out on the Northern Ireland win a fortnight earlier due to injury.
Claire Robinson’s crew were lively in the opening exchanges which saw the Lionesses scorn a missed penalty in the opening two minutes of action as Jess Brown was taken down inside the box with Mia Dodd picking up a card for the infringement. Brown however dragged her effort off target much to the relief of the home crowd.
Berkshire youngster Emma Harries also had a delightful opportunity to open their account but her attempt was just inches wide of Neve Scanlon’s post with nine minutes registered.
The Irish seemed to settle into the game following a frantic first 15 minutes which saw a spell of possession for the hosts.
Ballincollig CS scholar Zara Foley gave her side a slight advantage in proceedings as her well executed set piece on 23 minutes deceived Captain Lucy Williamson in goal to sail into the top corner for a magnificent opener.
1-0 to the hosts at the interval.
The Irish continued their attacking prowess early in the second half as substitute Sophie Liston combined well with colleague Zara Foley. The Newcastle West starlet fired a rocket goal bound but the sub goalkeeper Molly Bull pulled off a quite athletic save to keep her team in contention.
Northumberland player Jess Brown redeemed herself for her early penalty miss as she latched onto a mistimed pass from the Irish keeper to slot home the equaliser seven minutes from time.
The momentum was with the visitors as full time approached but Liston was on hand to dispatch the match winner for the Republic when she converted from close range on 70 minutes.
An historic win for the Irish over a dominant England team who will be well versed as they enter into the Bob Docherty Cup next month in defence of their title.
The Republic of Ireland management team will have some difficult decisions to make on their selection process following today’s encounter. A final trial session on Saturday, March 25 will put the finishing touches to the squad ahead of the International tournament which is scheduled for April 9 to 12 in the AUL Complex. The Irish will be pipped against Scotland and Wales in the group stages of that contest but will be hoping for further progression as the tournament continues. The other grouping will see England, Northern Ireland Shelbourne go head to head.
The Republic of Ireland last won the Bob Docherty Cup seven years ago when Scotland hosted in Glasgow. Runners up spot has been awarded to the Irish on three consecutive years, 2016, 2015 and 2014. Can Counihan and her squad go one better this season. The signs are good as two wins from two will ensure a new found confidence in the squad ahead of the opening day action.
POTM | Colin Bell (Senior WNT Head Coach) was on hand to award the accolade to Presentation SS, Thurles student Aoibheann Clancy following her heroic performance for the Schools select. She picked up a signed match day jersey courtesy of Savannah McCarthy who previously lined out for the Munster and Republic of Ireland Schools select back in 2011 representing her old school Presentation SS, Listowel.
Republic of Ireland: Neve Scanlon, Nadine Clare, Kayla Brady, Mia Dodd, Ellie Ferguson, Aoibheann Clancy, Zara Foley, Jessica Ziu, Anna Fahey, Taylor White, Shauna Carroll.
Substitutes: Kelsey Munroe, Kate O’Dowd, Muireann Devanney, Sophie Liston for Carroll (29), Maeve Williams, Emilia Koziel for White (55).
England: Lucy Williamson, Arabella Suttie, Deerna Goodwin, Melissa Robertson, Emily Wallace, Jasmine McQuade, Emma Harries, Sophie Peskett, Gemma Lawley, Georgia Brown, Jess Brown.
Substitutes: Abbie Fenton for Wallace (HT), Libby Gilmore for McQuade (56), Sharna Wilkinson for G Brown (HT), Lexie Harrison for Peskett (48), Molly Bull for Williamson (HT).
Referee: Orla Devaney (Dublin).