Ireland WU17s keen to finish on a high
Dave Connell’s team performed brilliantly against both France and Switzerland, but narrowly lost those two Group B games so they will end their time in the tournament against Norway.
Yet, there is an upbeat mood around the team hotel in Reykjavik as the coaching staff have kept the girls focused on beating Norway, who still have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Connell can be very proud of his players’ attitude and work-rate at these finals, but midfielder Lucy McCartan insists the entire squad want to taste victory and sign off in the best possible way.
“We’re not going to leave here without our pride. There is no point going out just to play; we’re going to go out to win,” said McCartan ahead of the game that kicks off at 2pm Irish time.
“Our defending has been brilliant and we have kept big teams out – they only scored one goal each against us and the Switzerland goal was a brilliant goal. We can take a lot of positives out of the games.”
There hasn’t been a stone left unturned in preparation for each game at this tournament and that sort of attention to detail will surely benefit the players as they progress in their careers.
Two of those players – Saoirse Noonan and Heather Payne – remain eligible for the U17s again next campaign, while others are bound to go on to earn caps at U19 and senior level such is their level of talent.
Peamount United ace McCartan certainly believes that to be the case for the team known as the Ice Queens as they hope to play their part in keeping women’s football in Ireland on an upward curve.
“We have Saoirse (Noonan) and Heather (Payne) who will still be Under 17 again next year, so they will be leaders for that team and hoping to get them back into a finals,” said McCartan.
“Then most of us will be trying to get into the Under 19s team, which will be very hard. So I think it is very positive going forward for all of the teams and there is a bright future ahead for a lot of them – if not all of them.”
UEFA European Championship Finals – Group B
28/06/2015: Norway v Republic of Ireland (Korinn, Kopavogur, Iceland; KO 2pm Irish Time)