Hungary 0 - 1 Republic of Ireland
REPORT: Payne goal guides WU17s to EURO Finals
The narrow victory saw Dave Bell's side end their three Elite Round games unbeaten with seven points and top of Group 4 - having previously beaten hosts Serbia and drawn with Scotland.
A single goal from Heather Payne on 13 minutes proved to be enough for Ireland to claim the win that they needed, but they were the more dominant of the two sides and that was a common trend throughout their qualifying campaign.
Sometimes it takes a moment of magic to deliver a desired result and that is exactly what happened when Peamount United ace Payne used her wand of a foot to fire in a free-kick from distance. There was no looking back after that.
"It is a fantastic achievement," beamed Bell after the win. "The girls worked so hard and the dedication that they gave to these qualifiers is testament to their attitude and also their quality.
"To qualify as group winners makes it even more enjoyable. We had to work hard to get the win because Hungary gave us a good game and I have to give credit to them because they are a very good side.
"We have had so many players step up in this qualifying campaign, but I can't praise our captain, Tiegan Ruddy, enough and also Sadhbh Doyle and Heather Payne. Those three girls guided the younger girls through and they were a big help to me.
"The new Senior Women's Head Coach, Colin Bell, was here watching the girls and I think he was impressed with their play. Now, I'm hoping that they can go to the tournament and show Europe what they can do.
"I believe this is a special group of players and they fully deserve to have made it through to the finals tournament."
Including their Qualifying Round games, this Ireland team played six times, won five, drew one, scored 14 goals, conceded one, and twice topped their group. It is a remarkable achievement by the players, the management, and all of the backroom staff.
The draw for finals tournament will take place on April 7, while the main event will be staged in Czech Republic from May 2-14.
Republic of Ireland: Turner; Grier, Ruddy, Doyle; Fahey (Spillane 53), McGovern, Toland, Mackey; Payne, McManus, McEvoy.
Hungary: Terestyenyi; Csolti, Fordos, Kovacs, Nagy; Pulins, Vachter (Dorner 73), Tolnai (Kovacs 52); Pintye, Nagy (Pusztai 51), Czeller.
Referee: Vera Opeykina (Russia).
WU17s ready for final test in Serbia
Dave Bell's side are joint top of Group 4 alongside Hungary and the two teams meet on Saturday to decide who will go through to the finals tournament in Czech Republic this summer.
A win over Serbia, who are hosting these Elite Qualifying Round games, and a draw with Scotland has given Ireland the confidence that they can complete their objective and top the group.
Defender Sabhdh Doyle insists there is a positive atmosphere amongst the squad ahead of the game in Gradski Zemum, Belgrade. And that is something that they must make the most of.
"If we play to our potential then we believe that we can win the game," states Doyle, who has been a key player with this team for the last two years.
"We are a very good footballing team and we feel that we can match up to anyone at this level. We just have to play our game. We have to set the tempo and put them under pressure."
The months of preparation under Bell's stewardship have brought Ireland to this stage and the players are determined to play as a team in order to overcome the final obstacle.
Galway native Doyle admits that clinching qualification would be the ultimate reward for their hard work. However, she is fully focused on putting in one more big shift.
"I want to play with these girls for as long as possible. I want to play at a European finals with them. So we want to stick together and get there as a team," she says.
- 12 Renáta Réka Virág (G)
- 2 Dorottya Simon
- 9 Eszter Kovács
- 13 Viktória Bódai
- 15 Dóra Dorner
- 16 Sára Pusztai
- 18 Emese Horváth
Republic of Ireland
- Referee Vera Opeykina
- Assistant Referees Sabina Valieva
- UEFA Delegate Katarzyna Wierzbowska
- Assistant Referee Two Aleksandra Stojanac
- Fourth Official Jelena Cvetković
- Referee Observer Katarzyna Wierzbowska
- Republic of Ireland
Shots on Target
Shots off Target
Republic of Ireland
1Shots on Goal5
Minute by Minute Commentary