Payne hoping to help WU17s start brightly


Payne hoping to help WU17s start brightly

Heather Payne only has one thing on her mind right now and that is helping the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 17s overcome Hungary on Saturday.
18th Mar 2016

Dave Bell's team kick off the first of three UEFA European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers in France with the intention of making it to a second successive finals tournament.

Payne was part of the 'Ice Queens' squad that competed in Iceland last summer and she is determined to help lead this new group to the finals, which will be held in Belarus in May.

First up is Hungary, followed by a clash with Czech Republic on Monday, and a final Group 3 game against France on Thursday. But first things first, it's about the opening three points on offer.

"Hungary is our first match and that is the most important match for us. We want to go out there with all guns blazing and get the win," said Payne.

The Galway native plays just like she speaks with a direct style that gets straight to the point. Little wonder then that she was this week selected as the Women's Under 16 International Player of the Year.

Payne has a good excuse for missing Sunday night's Three FAI International Awards, but she would rather share any glory that comes her way with her team-mates - who she describes as her 'family'.

"We're all really close and we are like a family. It's important to have that chemistry because if you don't have it then you don't work well together on the pitch," she explained.

"We're all really close and even after our recent friendlies in Poland we were all texting each other excited about when we would next be back together. Now we're in France for three huge games and we're ready for them."

Bell has no injury concerns for the opening game and a recent training stint in FOTA Island has helped his squad maintain their sharpness. It's simply a matter of putting it all together on the pitch.

The team certainly did that in the First Phase qualifiers - scoring 13 goals and not conceding any in three games. If they can repeat that then Payne knows that Ireland will be in with a great chance of topping their group.

"I definitely want to go back to the final again. It was so good last year and I want to get there again. The girls have asked me about the experience and we all want to get there together," she said.

"But first of all we have to beat Hungary. Our focus is just on Hungary and that is all that matters now."



Republic of Ireland WU17 v Hungary, Saturday, March 19, Bayeux, France, KO 5pm
Czech Republic v Republic of Ireland, Monday, March 21, Flers, France, KO 6pm
Republic of Ireland WU17 v France, Thursday, March 24, Bayeux, France, KO 5:30pm