Ireland U15 Girls ready for Bob Docherty Tournament
The Republic of Ireland Under-15 Girls squad will travel to Scotland ahead of the Bob Doherty Tournament which will take place in Glasgow from 13-15 April.
Managed by St. Josephs College's Michael Gallagher, the Irish schoolgirls will enter into the four team competition competing against Wales, Northern Ireland and host nation Scotland in a league style format that has seen them remain unbeaten since 2007.
The Irish girls have an incredible record in the tournament as they have captured the crown no less than four times since its inception in 2002.
The girls won the opening event in Ballymena and also won in 2005 when the event returned to the North and then again for the third time in 2007 when they travelled to Wales. The highlight for the Irish was a win on home soil with victory in Galway in 2008.
Last season, Ireland finished runners-up to Scotland after two draws and one win under their belts. This impressive performance was not enough to secure the silverware so the Irish will be looking to improve on their previous form.
U15 International team coach Dave Collins insists that they have a good chance of winning this time around.
He said: "Despite not coming out on top last year, the fact that we remained unbeaten, and extended that record, with such a young side, is extremely positive."
Gallagher will be strengthened by the fact that five experienced players will return from last season. These include goalkeeper Nicole Cranny, Aine Bennett, Chloe Mustaki, Shauna Newman and Gemma McGuinness.
The presence of these key players should prove influential in Ireland's success this year with the experience gained last time around.
One notable absentee from last season is Cork youngster, Claire Shine, who is currently on International duty with Noel King's U17 squad in the Ukraine as they compete in the elite qualifying phase of the UEFA Championships.
The manager can take comfort in the fact that there is a significant amount of talented newcomers on the scene. No doubt that this tournament will pave the way for future success for some of these youngsters.
Sarah Rowe, Michelle Farrell, Gemma McGuinness and Amber Barrett all hail from strong soccer schools that have progressed to All-Ireland glory. Also, Emily Cahill, Aoife Darcy, Aisling Reynolds, Ciara O'Connell, Amy O'Connor, and Katie McCabe are all influential players with their respective clubs.
Keara Cormican, Carys Johnson, Richelle Timothy and Niamh Kelly all participated in the Interprovincial tournament last November and proved their worth during the three day event and thus merited their selection onto the International panel.
Assistant Manager, Margaret Mulhall, insists that it was a difficult task in cutting the panel down to just 18 with the remarkable pool of players at their disposal.
Mulhall insisted: "The new recruits will savour the opportunity to play at the highest level representing their school and will ensure that the team will do themselves justice this year".
Northern Ireland will be the Republic's first round opponents as they kick off their campaign on Tuesday afternoon. A 2-1 win was a fabulous result last year against their northern rivals and they will be hoping that faith repeats itself next time around.
Wednesday afternoon will see the girls face the industrious Welsh in what should prove to be a very entertaining encounter.
Ireland managed a 2-2 draw last year despite going two goals down in the first half of a game they dominated and seeing no less than four players having to leave the pitch injured. The half-time team talk delivered by Gallagher seemed to work a treat as the girls earned a draw in a nail biting conclusion to the match.
The final game of the series on Thursday morning will see host nation and current title holders Scotland face the emerald country. Ireland will be hoping that they are still in contention for the title and this game could prove to be the highlight of the tournament with plenty at stake for both teams.
A 1-1 result last year was a fair result after Ireland enjoyed an early lead. The Irish will be well aware of the threat posed by the Scots and should be on their guard in a possibly crucial game for Gallagher's side.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND GIRLS U15 SQUAD: Nicole Cranny (Heywood Community School), Aine Bennett (Eureka Secondary School, Kells), Chloe Mustaki (St Kilian's Deutsche Schule), Emily Cahill (Newpark Comprehensive School), Shauna Newman (St Oliver's Community College), Carys Johnson (Colaiste Muire, Buttevant), Sarah Rowe (St. Mary's Secondary School, Ballina), Aisling Reynolds (Mean Scoil Mhuire, Longford), Niamh Kelly (St Louis Community College), Michelle Farrell (Moyne Community School), Katie McCabe (St. Paul's Secondary School, Greenhills), Ciara O'Connell (Mount Mercy College), Keara Cormican (Presentation College, Athenry), Gemma McGuinness (Moville Community College), Aoife Darcy (Mean Scoil Mhuire), Richelle Timothy (Castlerea Community School), Amber Barrett (Loreto Community School, Milford), Amy O'Connor (St. Vincent's Secondary School, Cork)
MANAGEMENT TEAM: Manager: Michael Gallagher, St. Joseph's College, Summerhill, Athlone, Assistant Manager: Margaret Mulhall, Moville Community School, Coach: Dave Collins, Alexandra College, Dublin, GK Coach: Ian Carry, Physio: David Kieran, Team Doctor: Dr. Natalia Bratu
Tuesday, 13 April (Lochinch Grounds, Pollock Country Park) KO 3pm
Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland
Wednesday, 14 April (Lochinch Grounds, Pollock Country Park) KO 3pm
Republic of Ireland v Wales
Thursday, 15 April (Glasgow University, Garscube Sports Complex) KO 10.30am
Republic of Ireland v Scotland