The WU19 squad played against Northern Ireland and England at Queen Ethelburgas Collegiate, Yorkshire this week as preparations for the 2019 European Championships qualifying campaign began.
Ireland faced an experienced Northern Ireland side, who featured a number of senior internationals, and claimed a 1-1 draw on Saturday, July 14. After falling behind just before the break, a dominant Ireland finally got the goal their play deserved in the final minute thanks to Peamount United winger Heather Payne.
Ireland played their second match of the training camp against England today, and despite another dominant performance, Ireland couldn't find the break-through. The home side scored goals either side of the break to secure a 2-0 win but Connell was delighted with the progress made during the week.
"It's been excellent, we've faced two quality teams and the players have trained really well throughout the whole week. We faced Northern Ireland, who had a lot of over-age players in the side, so that was a really good test and stood up to it well," Connell said.
"We dominated the possession in both games, even today against England which is highly unusual and we were excellent with the ball. We're disappointed with today's result of course, two soft goals but performance wise, we out-played them. It's a great learning experience for a lot of the players."
A number of players in the squad stepped up to WU19 level for the first time as Connell looks ahead to the start of the European Championships qualifying campaign in October.
"We've got a young players who are stepping up for the first time. Take Leah Brady today who started in central defence and did brilliantly. These are really positive signs which we're taking forward, especially considering 11 players were unavailable for the camp," Connell continued.
"We've got two more camps before we go into the qualifiers so there's a lot more work to be done. Those 11 players who missed out on this camp will be coming in for the next one so there is plenty of competition.
"There is a lot of young talent coming through and everyone got on the pitch with some decent game-time. I'm sure the work we're putting in now will stand to us as we go into the first phase."
Republic of Ireland starting XI v England: Turner (GK), Lobato, Fahey, Doyle, Atkinson, Mackey (C), Singleton, Payne, Boyle-Carr, Brady, Slattery.