The Republic of Ireland U19 Women's Squad flew out to Serbia today on the beginning of a journey they hope will lead them to the UEFA European Championship finals in Wales next August.
Dave Connell, fresh from guiding the U17 Women's squad to the second round of their European Championship with a 100 per cent record from three group games, will be hoping for more of the same when his side face Cyprus, Latvia and Serbia over the next week in Group 1 of the ten group first round stage.
Unlike the first round of the U17 competition, the two top will automatically qualify for the second round where they will join top seeds Germany, France and England as well as the third placed team with the best record against the top two in their first round group. Those 24 will then play-off in six four team groups with the group winners and the runners-up with the best record against the first and third placed teams in their group joining hosts Wales in the finals tournament.
"With two coming out of the group it should make life a little easier but we are not looking further than our opening game against Cyprus on Saturday," said Connell before departing Dublin. "The girls have looked good in training and there is a good spirit there."
Almost all the home-based players in the squad are attached to clubs playing in the Bus Eireann Women's National League which is now in its second season after a successful debut and Connell says it has made an enormous difference.
"It's been a great benefit. You can see a major improvement in fitness and sharpness while it has also helped me to keep track of the girls and made it a lot easier to watch them in action for their clubs," he added.
The Irish side played a friendly against Scotland last August in Glasgow and lost 7-1 so they will be keen to put that result well and truly behind them this week, starting with the opener against Cyprus on Saturday.
The squad will be based in Stara Pazova, a town 40km North West of the Serbian capital Belgrade and will meet Lativa on Monday before finishing against hosts, Serbia, on Thursday next.
Republic of Ireland U19 Women's Squad: Jillian Moloney (GSA 95 Phoenix Red, USA), Courtney Brosnan (PDA Slammers, USA), Denise O'Sullivan (Cork Women's FC), Emma Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic), Claire Shine (Cork Women's FC), Kelly Halligan (Blackburn Rovers), Gemma McGuinness (Greencastle FC), Rihanna Jarrett (Wexford Youths), Grace Wright (Challenge FC, USA), Ciara O'Connell (Cork Women's FC), Katie McCabe (Raheny United), Shauna Newman (Raheny United), Carys Johnson (Everton), Emily Cahill (Peamount United), Lauren Murphy (Cork Women's FC), Chloe Mustaki (Peamount United), Sinead O'Farrelly (Raheny United), Orlagh Nolan (Shamrock Rovers).
Group 1 Schedule
Saturday, October 20
Republic of Ireland v Cyprus, Gradski Stadium, Indija, Serbia, 1.30pm (Irish time)
Monday, October 22
Republic of Ireland v Latvia, FK Srem Stadium, Jakovo, Serbia. 1.30pm (Irish time)
Thursday, October 25
Republic of Ireland v Serbia, FK Srem Stadium, Jakovo, Serbia. 1pm (Irish time)
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