Irish U19 women given massive EURO boost
The Republic of Ireland women's U19 team have been named as a top seed for next month's UEFA Championship, elite qualifying phase draw which means that they will avoid European super powers such as Germany, France and Italy as they bid for their first ever UEFA finals appearance which takes place in Macedonia from 24 May to 5 June 2010.
Susan Ronan's (pictured right) side climbed a massive six places on UEFA's coefficient ranking list into sixth place behind France, England, Norway and Spain following their impressive performance in the recent first qualifying phase where they maintained a 100% record against Croatia, Faroe Islands and Finland.
Republic of Ireland manager, Susan Ronan holds an impressive record in the competition. She has been at the helm when the ‘Girls in Green' have advanced to the elite phase of the competition for the ninth time in ten years.
Speaking ahead of the UEFA Championship, elite qualifying phase draw, the Irish manager said, "I am absolutely delighted with the news that we are among the best teams in Europe, a culmination of results over the past three years in the first and elite qualifying phases. This is the highest that any Irish women's team has been ranked in UEFA's list and I think that this is a fair reflection on the past results and all of the hard work that goes into each campaign by the players and the staff."
While UEFA's rankings will boost Ireland's chances of reaching a major final appearance, Ronan urged caution ahead of the elite qualifying draw which will be made in UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on December 15th, "While we are now 1st seeds for the next phase of the competition, it does guarantee that we will avoid the big players such as Germany and France. However, this does not mean we will automatically get an easy draw. Looking at the 2nd and 3rd pots, we could be drawn against the likes of Russia, Norway, England and Switzerland so we are not taking anything for granted," she said.
In 2008, the Republic of Ireland went into the elite qualifying phase as top seeds against the Netherlands, Serbia and Spain with an overwhelming favourites tag and Ronan has pointed to this experience in her teams bid to reach the finals, "We went into that elite phase on the back of a very impressive run of results and assumed the unenviable role as favourites and in our opening game we lost to the Netherlands despite dominating the game from start to finish which all but ended our hopes of progressing. Looking back at that group, it was obvious that the belief wasn't in that squad that we could progress to the finals, especially after going a goal down in the opening game. We have learnt from those lessons and we will ensure that the team will be as physically and mentally prepared as possible for the challenges ahead," added Ronan.