Beirne strike helps WU19s earn draw
Dave Connell's team flew out to Portugal for two friendly games to help them prepare for the upcoming UEFA European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers, which will take place on home soil in April.
A recent friendly win over Northern Ireland gave the head coach food for thought and so did this game as several players impressed, including goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan who made a smart save early on.
Ireland's swift counter attacking allowed them to break beyond their opponents' backline with Megan Lynch and Roma McLaughlin taking aim with first-half efforts but neither could find the back of the net.
Strong in the air and disciplined in their play, Ireland didn't allow the afternoon heat to drain their energy. In fact, they looked the more dangerous of the two sides with Evelyn Daly firing a shot over in the second period.
When the opening goal did arrive on 63 minutes it took many by surprise, including Portugal goalkeeper Tatiana Beleza, as substitute Beirne delivered a corner kick from the left and it evaded everyone to bounce into the net.
Portugal did hit back with a goal through Alexa Ferreria on 85 minutes but that didn't take the shine off Ireland's performance. Connell can take many positives from his side's display even though he would note that there is still room for improvement.
The two teams will meet again on Thursday in Faro, where Connell will consider his line-up and approach. However, he will be pleased by the attitude and effort shown by his team in this game.
Republic of Ireland: McQuillan; Nelson (Donnelly 58), Keenan, Moloney, Prior; Daly (Byrne 79), H Nolan, Lynch (Watters 69); Finn (Beirne 39), J Nolan (Kearns 58), McLaughlin (Ryan-Doyle 69).