Finland 1 Republic of Ireland 2
The Republic of Ireland U17 Women's team beat Finland in Belarus today to win Group 9 and qualify automatically for the Second Round of the UEFA European Championship.
Dave Connell's side finished with a 100 per cent record after wins over Belarus, Georgia and Finland and with nine of the 18 players under-age for next season, it represents a tremendous achievement by the Girls in Green.
Tramore midfielder Aisling Frawley was the Irish heroine as her goal six minutes from time proved to be the winner in a keenly fought contest against a Finnish side that only needed a draw to win the group courtesy of their better goal difference after the opening two games.
Connell was able to name the same eleven which started the opening game against hosts Belarus on Monday after defender Payton Goulding and striker Amy O'Connor overcame the upsets stomachs which had made them doubtful in the build-up.
The Finns started brightly and forced a few early corners but didn't create a decent chance until the 20th minute when Tunturi went close. At the other end Ireland's top scorer Megan Connolly was off-target but in the26th minute Ireland took the lead when Finland central defender Laakso put through her own net. O'Connor McCarthy and Connolly all had chances to increase the lead up to half-time but missed.
The Finns made two changes at half-time taking off defenders Laakso and Alaj√§√§ski as they went in search of the draw they needed to top the group and ensure automatic qualification for the next stage and after 58 minutes striker Bjorkskog was replaced by Kollenen. The Finns continued to up the pressure and substitute Sankoh twice went close before the equaliser arrived in the 71st minute when Sankoh's corner was turned in by Nuutinen.
That left the Finns on course to win the group but their joy was short-lived as three minutes later Aisling Frawley restored Ireland's lead after being set up by Lisa Casserly. The Irish girls then hung on bravely for the final few minutes though hearts skipped a beat two minutes into injury time when Sankoh went close to equalising.
Connolly, Frawley and Lauren Dwyer all picked up yellow cards during the second-half.
Finland: Liljasto; Alaj√§√§ski (Sankoh 41), Laakso (Kindstedt 41) , √Ėstlund, Havukainen; Ahtinen, Tunturi, Laaksonen (c), Wentj√§rvi; Bj√∂rkskog (Kollanen 58). Unused subs: Hurmerinta, Front, Painilainen.
Republic of Ireland: Chelsea Noonan (Douglas Hall); Lauren Dwyer (Wexford Ladies), Rebekah Carroll (Peamount United), Payton Goulding (Minnesota Thunder), Savannah McCarthy (c) (Listowel Celtic); Aisling Frawley (Tramore), Ciara Rossiter (Wexford Ladies), Lisa Casserly (Castlebar Celtic); Amy O'Connor (Wilton United), Ciara McNamara (St Mary's Cork), Megan Connolly (College Corinthians). Unused Substitutes: Amy Corcoran (Peamount United), Avril Brierley (St Joseph's), Keeva Keenan (WFTA), Megan Kelleher (Kilmallock), Sara McGeough (Castlebar Celtic), Megan Lynch (Shelbourne), Amber Barrett (Lagan Harps).
Referee: Cristina Bujor (Romania).
UEFA European Women's U17 Championship
Qualifying Round Group 9
October 1: Republic of Ireland 3 Belarus 0, Finland 11 Georgia 0
October 3: Republic of Ireland 7 Georgia 0, Belarus 0 Finland 3
October 6: Finland 1 Republic of Ireland 2, Georgia 1 Belarus 4
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