Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Wales | 2018 - Womens Under 19 | 999943154

UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship
20 Oct 2016 13:30

Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Wales

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REPORT: WU19s secure passage to Elite Round

Two goals from Leanne Kiernan and a superb team performance saw the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19s record a 2-0 victory over Wales to book their place in the Elite Round of qualifying for the UEFA European Championships.
20th Oct 2016

In what was their second Group 2 game, Dave Connell's team ensured that they retained top spot by overpowering their opponents with a goal in either half from in-form striker Kiernan.

The win - which came on the back of the 10-0 defeat of FYR Macedonia - was enough for them to confirm their place in the next round before even taking on Italy in their final Qualifying Round game on Sunday.

"I'm delighted for the players because they have deserved the two victories. Now we want to finish what we came here to do and top the group," said head coach Connell. 

"It's important that we keep the continuity going and the belief that we can beat the bigger teams. Italy are next and they will be another challenge for us, but there is no reason why we cannot overcome them too.

"To qualify for the Elite Round is important for the development of our players because they get to play against best teams. We started this campaign with a task of winning six games; we are two down now with two wins so we are going well.

"Our belief, when setting out at the start, was that this group of players is good enough to reach the finals in Northern Ireland. We now have to keep working hard to achieve that but the girls have done brilliantly."

Over the course of two games Ireland have unloaded 55 shots on goal and pinned their opponents back inside their own half of the pitch while dominating possession and linking play with swift passing - all hallmarks of Connell's style of management.

The players have responded well to those positive tactics with Saoirse Noonan holding up play cleverly, Jessica Nolan and Alex Kavanagh bursting forward at specific moments, and Roma McLaughlin controlling the tempo as if she were a master puppeteer.

The contributions of each player stood out, from Amanda McQuillan's leadership between the posts, the security provided by the back four, and the defensive covering from Niamh Farrelly. Yet Kiernan caught the eye again.

Blessed with lightning pace, Kiernan was like Roadrunner as she raced away from her marker to open the scoring on 25 minutes. The Shelbourne Ladies hotshot then added to that with another finish on 46 minutes.

Those two goals proved to be the difference on the scoresheet, but Ireland were the better team in every area and it is why they will be competing in the Elite Round early in 2017.

Republic of Ireland: McQuillan; McCartan, Moloney, Finn, Prior (Beirne 86); Farrelly, McLaughlin (Craven 79); Kavanagh (Daly 88), Noonan, J Nolan; Kiernan.

Wales: Thomas Parr; Williams (Cruwys 46), Chivers (Jones 66), Estcourt, Jenkins; Miles, Lake, Tinman, Morris, Lyons; Lancaster (Davies 61).

Referee: Tess Olofsson (SWE).

Finn determined to build momentum with WU19s

Ten goals scored in their first UEFA European Championship qualifier would have many thinking that the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19s will continue to cruise through but not Jamie Finn.
19th Oct 2016

The Dubliner is a realist and she knows that last Tuesday's emphatic victory over FYR Macedonia was just one game and that result will be quickly forgotten if Ireland trip up against Wales on Thursday afternoon.

Dave Connell's team sit top of Group 2, yet they collectively share the mindset of 'we haven't achieved anything yet'. It is why Finn, who is in possession of the captain's armband, is looking for momentum, not presumption to be brought into their next game.

"We can't go into the game against Wales thinking that we are going to win 10-0 again. We have to go into it like we did against Macedonia with the mentality of it being 0-0 and having to earn the right to win the game," said Finn.

"We know that if we win we will qualify for the Elite Round, but we haven't done anything yet and Dave (Connell) has us focused on doing enough to win this next game because that is all that matters."

Boasting superior fitness levels and added strength, Finn has clearly benefitted from her switch to Florida Gulf Coast University. It's only been four months but the full-time training has started to pay off for the versatile player.

In the first of a three-year Sports Management course, Finn won't be short of any career targets for quite a while but the most pressing one is to help Ireland advance in this qualification campaign.

Finn was part of the Under 17 squad that made it to the European finals in Iceland in 2014. Now she wants to lead this U19 group to the main tournament in Northern Ireland next summer. But it's one step at a time.

"I think this is the tightest group of players that I've ever been involved with. We have been together for over two years and most of the girls were in Iceland, so we have that experience of a finals tournament," said Finn.

"Then we have the younger girls, like Alex Kavanagh and Leanne Kiernan, coming in and showing that these games not faze them at all. It's good for us to have that mixture in the squad and everyone wants to win as a group.

"But it's about winning the next game and that's against Wales, so we will be only focusing on that before even thinking about the finals."

Ireland opted not to risk midfielder Roma McLaughlin in the 10-0 victory over FYR Macedonia due to a slight strain, but Connell should have a full squad available for their second qualifier in Skopje.


Thursday, October 20: Republic of Ireland v Wales, Boris Trajkovski, Skopje, KO 13:30
Sunday, October 23: Republic of Ireland v Italy, Boris Trajkovski, Skopje, KO 13:30