UEFA Women's first phase qualifier
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Turkey
Noel King's Republic of Ireland Under-17 team are closing in on progression into the Elite phase of the UEFA qualifying series after winning their second game of the first section group against Turkey today (Monday) in Dravograd, Slovenia.
This victory, boosted by a Denise O'Sullivan brace, followed up Saturday's 5-0 win over mini-group hosts Slovenia and puts them level at the top of Group 4 with Denmark, who have also won their opening pair of matches.
Ireland face Denmark in their final match on Thursday to decide which of the nations finish top of the group. A draw will suffice for Ireland to seal the group but even a narrow defeat could be enough for them to advance to the next phase as one of six best-placed runners-up within the ten groups.
Denise O'Sullivan was one of the scorers against Slovenia and she maintained her form today by giving Ireland the lead after 10 minutes.
Jessica Gleeson thundered in a free-kick that the Turkish could only parry, allowing O'Sullivan to steal in and convert the rebound.
Siobhan Killeen and Niamh McLaughlin each went close with efforts as the half drew to a close but it was O'Sullivan who produced another sublime finish for Ireland's second goal within five minutes of the restart.
The forward from Cork pounced to shoot home after seizing upon a defensive mix-up and rounding the stranded goalkeeper.
Ireland made it 3-0 with a minute remaining following a good passing move involving two substitutes. Rianna Jarrett released Aileen Gilroy through the middle and she put the finishing touch on a superb team display from Ireland .
Ireland manager Noel King was extremely pleased with his players over the course of their two matches.
"Today was another well-deserved victory," he said. "I thought we were capable of extending our winning margin in the first half and we managed to maintain the tempo in the second half.
"It's important, too, that all 17 outfield players in the squad have figured during the two games. The strength in depth we possess at the moment means competition for places is very tense."
Looking forward to Thursday's showdown against the Danes, King said: "Denmark will be formidable opposition but we've no reason to be anything except confident. Eoin Killacky, one of our coaches, has watched Denmark's two matches so far and we know what to expect from them."
Should Ireland confirm their place in the next phase, they will battle it out in another four-nation group to qualify for the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final tournament in June 2010 at the Colovray Stadium opposite UEFA's Swiss headquarters in Nyon.
It will be the third time the venue has staged the event, with Germany emerging as champions in both previous seasons. This season's competition will also be a qualifier for the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. UEFA has been allocated three berths.
REP OF IRELAND: Grace Maloney, Megan Campbell, Kerry Glynn, Jessica Gleeson, Niamh McLaughlin (Aileen Gilroy 73), Ciara Grant, Dora Gorman, Denise O'Sullivan, Siobhan Killeen, Stacie Donnelly (Rianna Jarrett 77), Ciara O'Brien.
Women's U17 first qualifying phase fixtures and results
Saturday, October 10
Republic of Ireland 5-0 Slovenia
Denmark 3-0 Turkey
Monday, October 12
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Turkey
Slovenia 0-2 Denmark
Thursday, October 15
Denmark v Republic of Ireland
Kick-off: 3pm (local time)
Turkey v Slovenia
Kick-off: 3pm (local time).