Italy 0 - 2 Republic of Ireland | 2018 - Womens Under 19 | 999943155

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

Italy 0 - 2 Republic of Ireland

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REPORT: Dominant performance sees WU19s top group

Three straight wins saw the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19s top their Qualifying Round group in the UEFA European Championships after beating Italy 2-0 in their final game.
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23rd Oct 2016

The victory means that Dave Connell's team finish the first stage of qualifying for the 2017 finals as Group 2 winners following their previous triumphs over FYR Macedonia and Wales.

Connell opted to stick with the same starting line-up that overcame Wales and his decision paid off on 33 minutes when Cork native Saoirse Noonan opened the scoring.

Defender Chloe Moloney made it 2-0 on 58 minutes after good work by Niamh Prior and that was all they needed to complete their objective of three wins in Skopje.

"We needed to beat Italy to top the group and we did it in style. We played really well as a team against a very good Italian side and it was a real team performance that got us through," said head coach Connell.

 

"I've been fortunate to work with some great teams through the years and this team can potentially go all the way. Now, we won't get too carried away, but we are certainly going in the right direction.

 

"We set targets individually and as a team, which included getting nine points, not conceding a goal, and topping the group - and we achieved that. I'm delighted for the players and also the staff, who work incredibly hard. 

 

"The most pleasing thing, though, was how the players managed the games and how they were able to shut out games. It was a really professional approach from the players and they came to the fore in these three games. We now look forward to the Elite Round next year."

To put Ireland's achievement in numbers, they played three games, won all three, scored 14 goals, conceded zero, took 58 shots on goal, had seven different goalscorers, and all but one of their squad got minutes on the pitch.

Connell, who is aiming to guide a third different women's team to a UEFA finals tournament, can now start planning for Spring 2017 when the Elite Round games will be scheduled. 

If Ireland top their group at that stage, they will be one of seven teams joining the hosts, Northern Ireland, in the finals. It's a case of so far, so good for this team.

Republic of Ireland: McQuillan (McAloon 90); McCartan, Finn, Moloney, Prior; Farrelly, McLaughlin (Watters 56); Kavanagh (Ryan-Doyle 87), Noonan, J Nolan; Kiernan.

Italy: Piazza; Lenzini, Tortelli, Mella, Merlo; Cavicchia (Regazzoli 66), Caruso; Gilonna (Santoro 46), Cantore, Del Stabile (Macsarello 87), Serturini.

Referee: Tess Olofsson (SWE).

McLaughlin sets sights on WU19s topping group

With one more obstacle to overcome, Roma McLaughlin believes that the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19s can achieve their target of topping their Qualifying Round group in FYR Macedonia.
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22nd Oct 2016

Twelve goals scored and six points collected have propelled Dave Connell's team to the top of Group 2 - following a 10-0 victory over FYR Macedonia and a 2-0 win against Wales - but they still have Italy to face off against on Sunday afternoon.

Before they left Dublin to land in Skopje, Connell had informed his squad that he wanted them to return home with three wins from three games and a top seed ranking. After an impressive start, it's now time to finish the job.

It is why midfield dynamo McLaughlin delivers the same message when pressed on what is motivating a team that has already secured qualification to the Elite Round.

"The objective when we came out here was nine points, so we know that we have to beat Italy to complete that. We are pushing to top the group," said McLaughlin.

"If we top the group we have a better chance of avoiding the bigger teams in the Elite Round, but we also want to show the rest of Europe that we are a good side and that we are in the mix for the finals."

The next round of games don't roll around until March 2017, so McLaughlin & Co are determined to do all that they can to ensure that they put themselves in the best possible position to reach next summer's finals in Northern Ireland.

Part of the strategy behind that has been the introduction of new players, like Alex Kavanagh and Leanne Kiernan, who have scored eight goals between them in two games. No wonder McLaughlin is quick to highlight their strength in depth.

"I think the two games that we've played, against Macedonia and Wales, have showed that we have goalscorers throughout the team and that's a big asset for us to have," explained the Donegal native.

"When we played in the Under 17 finals in Iceland we struggled to get shots on target, but we've now addressed that. And the likes of Alex (Kavanagh) and Leanne (Kiernan) have added to that.

"This is probably the closest squad that I have been involved with and it definitely helps that we all get on together off the pitch. We just have to keep it going now and get the win against Italy."

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