Ireland WU17: Aiming to finish Elite Round on a high


Ireland WU17: Aiming to finish Elite Round on a high

Finishing the tournament with a win is firmly the aim for the Republic of Ireland Women's Under-17s ahead of Tuesday's final game against Scotland in Edinburgh.
25th Mar 2019

The Irish squad have no doubt that they will have a battle on their hands from the host nation in the third UEFA Elite Round fixture at Ainslie Park, which kicks-off at 14:30 on Tuesday afternoon.

But head coach Colin Bell and his players are confident they can take three points from the game if they play to their abilities and continue the form they have shown so far in the competition.

Jessica Ziu is a concern for Bell ahead of the game with a groin and hip flexor problem, while Emily Kraft remains sidelined with an ACL injury she picked up in the first game against Norway.

Despite the defeat, Bell is taking plenty of positives from Saturday's game against Germany and felt the team did excellently in many spells of the match.

"In the first half we definitely frustrated the Germans, who are a really good side - they have a lot of very talented young girls playing. Our girls did a fantastic job defensively and they put a lot of work into that. We knew we had to defend deep and we'd set ourselves up for that.

"Everybody knew what they had to do and we looked well organised. But we also know that we have players that are capable of really hurting opponents and we had really attacking moments and created two 100 per cent goal-scoring chances," said Bell.

Thoughts have now very much moved on to the tie against Scotland and working to get a win in what Bell expects to have "the character of a local derby".

He said: "I'm looking forward to the game, of course. It's been a tough tournament for us, but there have been a lot of positives we can take out of it. The German team are just a cut above everybody, so that means that Norway, Scotland and ourselves are quite on an even level and I think in these kind of games, it really is the form of the day that will be decisive.

"The concentration levels have to be high. We found that out in the games so far - when they weren't that high, we were punished. As the host nation, Scotland don't want to finish bottom without any points, so they're going to be aggressive in the game. And they were much improved in the game against Norway, that was a really tight tie. It was a very even match.

"I think it will be a very physical game, it's going to be more of a battle. But we still want to be creative, we created enough chances in both games, but we will to have to finish them," continued Bell.

The coach's belief that Ireland can get a strong result from the game is also evident in the squad, with the only goal-scorer of the tournament so far, Rebecca Cooke, echoing his sentiments.

"We have definitely surprised people so far. We came into a tough group with the Germans and the Norwegians, and then Scotland being the host country. We went out in the first game and got the draw and I think that set our standards for the rest of the tournament. And then to go out and play Germany, a really tough side who are training a lot more than we are, and do so well was good for us.

"We really want to end the camp on a high against Scotland tomorrow and not let our standards drop at all. Our aim now is to come second in the group," said Cooke.

The goal against Norway was Cooke's first for her country, as she is relatively new to international football.

Cooke said: "It was my first goal for Ireland, so it was a proud moment. I was just brought into the squad in August and my first camp was in September, as I didn't play Under-15s or Under-16s. I felt I had progressed a good bit last year and then after seeing me playing a number of times, Colin invited me to the home-based session and that led me to here."

And Cooke impressed how eager she and her team-mates are to get a win from what they expect to be a hard-fought game.

She said: "It's going to be a tough game for us, obviously Scotland are the home team, they have the support. But we need to just keep our heads, and go into the game the same as we did against Norway and Germany, knowing we can get something out of the game, and knowing that's it's important that we do. We want to end the camp on a high. We want to make a markand show that Ireland has potential."

Republic of Ireland WU17 Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Maguire (Shelbourne), Maeve Williams (Wexford Youths)
Defenders: Therese Kinnevey (Galway Women's), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City), Ellie Ferguson (Shelbourne), Shauna Brennan (Galway Women's), Mia Dodd (Shelbourne), Zara Foley (Cork City)
Midfielders: Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne), Aoibheann Clancy (Limerick), Orla Prendergast (Peamount United), Della Doherty (Peamount United), Erin McLaughlin (Sea Rovers FC), Taylor White (Shelbourne)
Forwards: Lauren Egbuloniu (Cork City), Sophie Liston (Limerick), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Blessing Kingsley (Wexford Youths)

UEFA Women's European Under-17 Championship Elite Round - Group Four
March 20: Republic of Ireland 1-1 Norway
March 23: Germany 2-0 Republic of Ireland
March 26: Scotland v Republic of Ireland, 14:30, Ainslie Park, Edinburgh