Belgium 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland | 2018 - Senior Womens Friendlies | 999944966

Senior Women's Friendlies International Friendly | Pinatar Arena, Murcia (Spain)
20 Jan 2019 14:00

Belgium 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland

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Ireland WNT: Young side succumb to Belgian defeat

Republic of Ireland Women's National Team suffered a narrow defeat to Belgium thanks to Elena Dhont's first-half strike at the Pinatar Arena.
1_Team_Bel.JPG
20th Jan 2019

A strong Belgian side netted their first chance of the game through Dhont in the 16th minute as Colin Bell's young Ireland side failed to find the net. 

Bell handed a senior international debut to 16-year old striker Emily Kraft and a first start to Shelbourne winger Isibeal Atkinson. He also welcomed Megan Connolly and Harriet Scott back into the starting line-up for the first fixture of 2019. 

Belgium struggled to break down Ireland throughout the 90 minutes, having claimed an impressive 1-1 draw against Spain on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, Ireland gave Belgium the perfect opportunity to take the lead when they failed to play it out of the back and Dhont capitalised to fire home from just outside the area. 

In difficult conditions in Murcia, both sides struggled to create chances but Ireland responded well to going behind and took control of the game. Captain Katie McCabe saw her fierce effort blocked in the 20th minute before Ireland's best chance of the game just past the half-hour. 

A well-worked corner routine between Tyler Toland and Katie McCabe saw the near-post cross flicked just past the left-hand post by the dominant Louise Quinn. 

Ireland were hampered by two defensive injuries as Harriet Scott was forced off just after the break, to be replaced by Claire O'Riordan. In the final quarter-of-an-hour, O'Riordan was forced off after sustaining a head injury and she was replaced by senior international debutant Niamh Farrelly. 

Ireland, who were missing strike duo Leanne Kiernan and Rianna Jarrett, failed to create many chances in the second-half to draw level as Colin Bell's side succumbed to defeat. 

"I can't fault the effort of the players. They've had a great week of training and they've continued until the very last minute," said WNT Head Coach Colin Bell.

"Belgium are a strong side and they will do well, no doubt. The disappointing thing is that we've lost the game without being outclassed. The goal they scored was down to our mistake and that is extremely frustrating.

"We're missing a few players but that gave the opportunity to some other players today. If you look at the players we've brought on, we've played two 16-year olds, three 17-year olds and 18-year olds, so this is a great experience for the younger players. 

"Emily Kraft deserved to start today after a fantastic week of training and showed that she can compete at this level. She had to go up against a strong Belgian defence, both centre-backs have over 50 caps, and she caused them problems. 

"There were real positives for us to take forward but we need to make sure we're not giving the opposition an opportunity to win the game like we did."

Republic of Ireland: Marie Hourihan (GK), Heather Payne, Megan Connolly, Niamh Fahey (Jessica Ziu 68), Louise Quinn, Harriet Scott (Claire O'Riordan 51 (Niamh Farrelly 86)), Tyler Toland, Denise O'Sullivan, Katie McCabe (C), Isibeal Atkinson (Emily Whelan 76), Emily Kraft (Amber Barrett 76).

Belgium: Nicky Evrard (GK), Davina Philtjens (Davinia Vanmechelen 64), Tine Decaigny, Lenie Onzia (Chloe Vande Velde 63), Shari Van Belle, Elena Dhont (Heleen Jaques 64), Janice Cayman (C), Laura De Neve (Ella Van Kerkhoven 83), Julie Biesmans, Laura Deloose, Kassandra Missipo.  

Referee: Zulema Gonzalez Gonzalez (ESP)

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Belgium 
Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading)
Defenders: Heather Payne (Bristol City), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool FC), Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City), Shauna Brennan (Galway Women's).
Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Kildrum Tigers), Megan Connolly (unattached), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United), Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne).
Attackers: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Isibeal Atkinson (Shelbourne), Emily Kraft (FFC Frankfurt).

Result - International Friendly 
20/01 - Belgium 1-0 Republic of Ireland, Pinatar Arena, Murcia

Ireland WNT: Megan Connolly excited for international future

Republic of Ireland WNT midfielder Megan Connolly can't wait to 'achieve something special' after returning to international duty for Sunday's match against Belgium.
18th Jan 2019

The Cork-born international is ready to continue her international career after completing her Social Sciences studies at Florida State University last year. 

Not only did she achieve success off the pitch but it was followed by significant success off it as the Florida State Seminoles won the NCAA College Championship with Connolly playing a central role. 

Connolly is set for the next phase of her career as she looks to move into professional football and could make her first appearance for the WNT since the defeat in Norway last year.

"It's been an incredible four years and to win the Championship at the end of it is fantastic," said the 21-year old.

"It's a really difficult Championship to win and to do it with what you consider your family is unbelievable really. I wanted to concentrate on my studies so to play for Ireland and study in America is really difficult to do.

"Now it's done, I'm really excited to be able to fully concentrate on playing for Ireland and looking forward to the next step in my career. It's always fantastic to play international football and to be back in camp is great."

Colin Bell's side are currently preparing for their first game of 2019 against Belgium at the Pinatar Arena on Sunday, with kick-off at 2pm (3pm local time). Belgium go into the international friendly on the back of a 1-1 draw with Spain at Cartagena last night. 

With UEFA 2021 European Championships qualifying set to begin in September, Connolly is aiming for a big year with the squad and believes Ireland can continue the progress they've made.

"It's incredible what the team achieved in the last campaign really. Going up and competing against Norway and the Netherlands shows how far we've come as a team and the work the manager has put in," Connolly continued. 

"I really believe we can achieve something special. We've got so many talented young players and everyone is just getting better and better. 

"Every time I come into camp, you can see the improvement and we've got to keep that up for the next few matches going into September. Belgium is one of the best teams in the world really so these are the tests we need." 

Team News: Defender Diane Caldwell is set to be ruled out of the international friendly with Claire O'Riordan, Megan Connolly and Niamh Farrelly all in contention to start. 

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Belgium 

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Heather Payne (Bristol City), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool FC), Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City), Shauna Brennan (Galway Women's).

Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Kildrum Tigers), Megan Connolly (unattached), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United), Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne).

Attackers: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Isibeal Atkinson (Shelbourne), Emily Kraft (FFC Frankfurt).

Fixture - International Friendly 

20/01 - Belgium v Republic of Ireland, Pinatar Arena, Murcia - 3pm (2pm Irish time)

Ireland WNT: Shauna Brennan added to squad to face Belgium

Republic of Ireland WNT Head Coach Colin Bell has added Galway Women's defender Shauna Brennan to the squad to face Belgium.
14th Jan 2019

The squad are set to travel to Spain tomorrow for the training camp in Murcia before facing Belgium in an international friendly at the Pinatar Arena on Sunday, February 20. 

Ireland Women's Under 17 international Shauna Brennan has been added to the squad after impressing Head Coach Colin Bell during the WU17 qualifying round phase in October and in home-based training. 

"I'm delighted to be able to bring Shauna Brennan to Spain with us," said WNT Head Coach Colin Bell.

"She has really impressed recently in home-based training and I've also enjoyed working with her in the Women's Under 17 squad. 

"She has fantastic ability and I think she'll be another player who'll really benefit from training with the senior squad. It will bring her into a different environment, training at a higher level and it's a real positive to have so many talented young players coming through. 

"It is an important week for us. It is our first fixture of the year and I want to see us begin the year right as we look ahead to the start of European Championships qualifying in September." 

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Belgium 

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Heather Payne (Bristol City), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool FC), Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City), Shauna Brennan (Galway Women's).

Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Kildrum Tigers), Megan Connolly (unattached), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United), Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne).

Attackers: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Isibeal Atkinson (Shelbourne), Emily Kraft (FFC Frankfurt).

Fixture - International Friendly 

20/01 - Belgium v Republic of Ireland, Pinatar Arena, Murcia - 3pm (2pm Irish time)

Ireland WNT: Squad announced for Belgium friendly

Republic of Ireland Women's National Team Head Coach Colin Bell has named a 20-player squad for the upcoming international friendly against Belgium.
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8th Jan 2019

The WNT are set for their first test of 2019 at the Pinatar Arena in Murcia, Spain against Belgium on Sunday, January 20 with kick-off at 3pm (2pm Irish time).

Midfielder Megan Connolly returns to the squad after completing her college commitments at Florida State University and Birmingham City defender Harriet Scott also returns to the squad. 

Midfielder Tyler Toland has recovered from an injury sustained in the 4-0 win over Northern Ireland in August to be called up. West Ham United striker Leanne Kiernan has been ruled out of the squad through injury whilst Wexford Youths striker Rianna Jarrett has also been ruled out.

There are also call-ups for Women's Under 17 players Rebecca Cooke and Emily Kraft after impressing in the November training camp. 

"The first game of a new year always represents a great opportunity to build momentum in what is an important 12 months for the team," said WNT Head Coach Colin Bell. 

"We're delighted to welcome back Megan Connolly after winning the National Championship with Florida State University and she'll be a valuable asset for the team in the future. 

"Harriet Scott and Tyler Toland also come back into the squad which is a big boost for the squad ahead of what should be a difficult test against an excellent Belgium team. 

"I've also decided to name Emily Kraft and Rebecca Cooke in the squad who did really well in our November training camp and another week with the team should really benefit their development.

"We want to test ourselves against the very best teams ahead of the start of the 2021 European Championships qualifying in September to make sure we're fully prepared to qualify for our first-ever major international tournament."

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Belgium 

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Heather Payne (Bristol City), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool FC), Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City).

Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Kildrum Tigers), Megan Connolly (unattached), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount United), Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne).

Attackers: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Isibeal Atkinson (Shelbourne), Emily Kraft (FFC Frankfurt).