|Noel King's Republic of Ireland women's U17 side today recorded a convincing 3-1 victory over tournament hosts Ukraine in the Crimean region of the country today (Saturday) in the opening game of the UEFA Championship, elite qualifying phase.|
Goals from Dora Gorman, Stacie Donnelly and Denise O'Sullivan sealed the win but the score line did not reflect on the stubborn Ukrainian team who refused to accept defeat from start to finish.
Ireland started very strongly and did not allow their hosts to even enter the Irish half for long periods. The young ‘Girls in Green' had numerous chances to score in the opening minutes but Irish captain Dora Gorman opened the scoring after 14 minutes when a well-worked free-kick from the left was whipped in by defender, Megan Campbell and Gorman was on-hand to forcefully head the ball past Gayevska in Ukraine's goal.
With confidence brimming in the Irish team, they had a number of chances to double their advantage but the Ukrainian keeper was in top form as she pulled off a string of fine saves. At this stage, the Irish midfield quartet of Ciara Grant, Niamh McLaughlin, Dora Gorman and Denise O'Sullivan were bossing the game in a very comfortable spell for the Irish.
Ukraine equalised completely against the run of play in the 38th minute through Daryna Vorontsova. The Ukrainians were awarded a dubious free kick just outside the box and the ball was swung in by midfielder, Yakovishyn and Daryna Vorontsova out-jumped her marker at the back-post to powerfully head the ball past Grace Moloney in the Irish goal, giving her no chance.
Ukraine started very brightly in the opening stages of the second half and Reading's goalkeeper, Grace Moloney pulled off a number of fine saves to keep the sides level. Ireland were back in the lead in the 61st minute through Stacie Donnelly in an outstanding move which seen Ciara Grant play a first time pass to Siobhan Killeen who clipped it inside the box to Donnelly, she strongly held off her marker and blasted the ball past the keeper with a powerful left footed shot from 12 yards.
Wilton striker, Denise O'Sullivan (pictured right) sealed the win for Noel King's side in the 79th minute with an inspiring show of determination and sacrifice for her team. The tricky striker gambled on a loose back-pass to the Ukrainian keeper who hesitated with her clearance and O'Sullivan got between a defender and the keeper as she took a blow to the upper body but she stood firm and managed to tap the ball into an empty however, any celebrations were put on hold as she was replaced by Killala's Aileen Gilroy after a long stoppage.
Republic of Ireland manager, Noel King praised his sides performance against a difficult Ukrainian side, "This was always going to be an incredibly tough game against such a strong and stubborn opponent but this was a fantastic exercise for our team as I thought that they really pulled together and their determination ensured that we are still on course for qualification to the European Championships. That pure determination of the team was epitomized by the Denise O'Sullivan goal in the final moments of the game. She took a heavy blow to the body and instead of going down when she was clearly injured, she held her composure and put the ball into the net. Thankfully Denise (O'Sullivan) has recovered from the blow and I am absolutely delighted for the team as this sets up our week very nicely ahead of the Poland and Sweden games next week," said King.
|Republic of Ireland: Grace Moloney, Kerry Glynn, Megan Campbell, Jessica Gleeson, Ciara O'Brien, Ciara Grant, Niamh McLaughlin, Dora Gorman (C), Denise O'Sullivan, Stacie Donnelly, Siobhan Killeen.|
Substitutes: Tanya Kennedy, Rianna Jarrett (on for McLoughlin, 80 mins) , Aileen Gilroy (on for O'Sullivan, 78 mins), Jennifer Byrne, Amanda Crudden (GK), Rebecca Kearney, Clare Shine (on for Donnelly, 80 mins).
|Ukraine: Valeriya Gayevska, Yana Holysh, Svitlana Budnik, Olena Tyelna, Darya Kravets, Darya Darytska, Daryna Vorontsova, Inna Tomylko, Marharyta Furmanova, Oksana Yakovishyn, Olha Ovdiychuk|
Karina Govorunova, Lyudmyla Shmatko, Anna Davydenko, Lyubov Shmatko, Anastasiya Pazyuk, Tamila Khimich, Nataliya Chabanyuk