Ireland beaten by reigning champions - England
Susan Ronan's Irish women's U19 side this evening (Saturday) suffered a 3-0 defeat to a dominant England side in the UEFA Championship, elite qualifying phase in Sweden.
The Irish who were unbeaten in the UEFA Championship qualifier before tonight's game started very brightly and created numerous chances through Denise O'Sullivan and Megan Campbell before the break but the biggest talking point of the first-half came in the 34th minute when English defender, Gilly Flaherty hacked down Dora O'Gorman following her mazy run which saw her dribble past three defenders en-route to goal. Despite the protests of the Irish players, the referee awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area which Megan Campbell came agonisingly close to converting.
England took the lead six minutes later following a mix-up in the Irish defense. England's Toni Duggan gambled on a back-pass by Ciara Grant and she intercepted the ball and coolly slotted it into the net past Aisling Dyer, giving her no chance.
The Irish started the second half very strongly but as they went in search of an elusive equaliser, the English doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute through Demi Stokes in a well rehearsed move.
England defender, Gilly Flaherty scored her sides third goal after 66 minutes in another well worked move from the right with some neat interplay from the side. The ball was squared back into the box and Flaherty was on-hand to powerfully slot the ball into the net from close range.
Irish substitute, Amy Ryan almost grabbed a trademark goal in the 81st minute but her clever shot at the edge of the box narrowly cleared the crossbar by a matter of inches.
Irish manager, Susan Ronan was understandably unhappy with the result but maintained that her opponents were very deserving of the result, "Obviously to lose in any game can only be disappointing but we have to give great credit to an England side who were technically very strong. The score-line is a little deceptive because we did make a lot of chances throughout the game and if it was any other team, we probably would have won. Let's not forget that England beat Germany 4-1 in a friendly last week which just shows how strong they are. Were we awarded that penalty in the 34th minute, which I thought we deserved, the game may have been different," she said.
"I thought our players were fantastic. I could not have asked for much more of the team in terms of performance. At half-time, they were really eager to get back into the game and I can only imagine how disappointed they are because their display was far better than the 3-0 score-line may suggest."
In today's other group game, last year's beaten finalists, Sweden over-powered Turkey 3-0. Ireland will now play Turkey in their second elite phase fixture on Monday while they face group hosts, Sweden in the final game on Thursday.
The Girls in Green advanced through their preliminary round of qualifiers last September with three straight victories over Croatia, Faroe Islands and Finland.
Only the six group winners and one runner-up with the best record against the sides first and third in their pool will join hosts FYR Macedonia in the finals from 24 May until 5 June 2010.
Republic of Ireland: Aisling Dyer, Kerry Ann Glynn, Shelby Murphy, Rebecca Walsh, Karen Duggan, Dora Gorman, Ciara Grant, Megan Campbell, Julie Ann Russell, Elizabeth Fenlon, Denise O'Sullivan
Substitutes: Niamh Reid-burke, Zoe Murphy, Amy Ryan (on for Fenlon, 60 mins), Ciara O'Brien (on for Murphy 73 mins, Cherelle Khassal (on for O'Sullivan, 46 mins), Zoe Doherty, Lois Roche
Referee: Donka Jeleva-terzieva (BUL)
UEFA Under-19 Women's Championship Elite Phase Qualifiers:
Saturday March 27
Republic of Ireland 0-3 England
Monday March 29 (7pm)
Republic of Ireland v Turkey
Thursday April 1 (2pm)
Sweden v Republic of Ireland