Ireland WU17s undone by Norway
Dave Connell’s team knew that they would not be making it out of Group B going into this game but still fought hard and deserved something from it despite what the scoreline might suggest.
Norway’s goals came when Jenny Norem profited from a loose ball at the back post and they got a second just before the break through Ingrid Kvernvolden’s long-range strike.
“We played some fantastic football but we just didn’t score a goal. I’m very, very proud of our girls and we can hold our heads up high with how we’ve played in this tournament,” said Connell afterwards.
“It was a fantastic achievement to qualify and we performed well in our three games, but just didn’t get that bit of luck. We obviously came here to win the tournament, but we can be proud of our performances overall.”
Similar to their two previous games in this tournament – narrow losses to France and Switzerland – Ireland started brightly in their 4-3-3 formation and largely dictated the tempo with their running and passing.
However, they just weren’t clinical at key moments, like when Eleanor Ryan Doyle volleyed over following a clever scooped pass from Saoirse Noonan or when Heather Payne’s shot was deflected wide.
Norway, though, were fortunate more than clinical in front of goal. Norem scored when goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan dropped a cross and she poked the ball in at the back post.
Connell’s side fought back but Norway had a couple of more chances – headers wide by Andrea Norheim and Kvernvolden – before they scored again with Kvernvolden spinning off McQuillan and into the net.
In the three games, McQuillan has been simply outstanding and is destined to become a senior international, but she didn’t have much luck on both goals. And that summed up Ireland’s three games overall – unrewarded for their positive play.
Connell made a double substitution – bringing on Dearbhaile Beirne and Lucy McCartan – and switched captain Jamie Finn into midfield, where she was able to have more of an influence on the team going forward.
More goalscoring opportunities started to fall for Ireland as Jessica Nolan, Ryan Doyle, and Finn all went close with efforts before Finn earned a penalty, which she took and unfortunately saw it clip the crossbar and go over.
Just before that chance McQuillan made a truly wonderful diving save to keep out an effort from Kvernvolden. Up the other end, Ireland continued to press forward and Ryan Doyle fired a shot just wide.
Norway took the points at the end of this game, but they bowed out of the tournament along with Ireland as France and Switzerland progressed from Group B into the semi-finals.
Brave, resilient, and positive, Ireland can hold their heads up high from how they performed in this tournament. Connell and his backroom staff did a terrific job, but luck didn’t fall their way on the pitch.
Republic of Ireland: McQuillan (Maher 80); Donnelly, Finn, Moloney, Nolan; Daly, Noonan, Meaney (McCartan 52); McKevitt (Beirne 52), Ryan Doyle, Payne.
Norway: Saevik; Ellingsen (Sand h-t), Suphellen, Nilsen (Dovie 65), Haaland; Syrstad Engen, Maanum; Norem (Lofshus 75), Norheim, Hafnor; Kvernvolden.
Referee: Viola Raudzina (Latvia).