Under-17 Women’s International Friendly Tournament - Poland
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Italy
Megan Campbell 23
The Republic of Ireland Under-17 Women’s team concluded their four-nation friendly tournament in Poland today with a fantastic victory over Italy to finish runners-up overall in the final standings.
Megan Campbell’s winning goal in the first-half sealed Ireland’s second win from their three games at the event.
This was Ireland’s final warm-up game before they embark on their Under-17 European Championship qualifying games which begins with the first phase in Turkey between October 18-23 involving the Irish, Faroe Islands, the Netherlands and the hosts.
Noel King’s Irish side were reeling from 1-0 defeat to Russia on Thursday, when they deserved more from the game, which had followed the 3-1 win over host nation Poland in Tuesday’s opener.
Ireland’s hat-trick hero against the Polish, Orla Devanney, sustained a shoulder injury in the Russia game that ruled her out of today’s final match.
Early chances for Ireland to register a goal were missed, as both Bronagh Kerins and Maria Delahunty saw their attempts rebound off the post.
Ireland’s attacks continued against their illustrious opponents and they got their deserved breakthrough from a rehearsed set-piece on 23 minutes when Ciara Grant tipped a free-kick into that path Megan Campbell who fired beyond the Italian goalkeeper.
Italy came at Ireland in the second half but goalkeeper Sinead Crotty was seldom troubled behind a well-marshaled defence.
On the few occasions she was tested, the American-born stopper was out from line quickly to smother the danger with brave saves at the feet of the Italian attackers.
The Irish lead could have been doubled late on after Delahunty delivered a teasing cross which Kirsty Keogh sliced wide from a good position.
Republic of Ireland manager Noel King reckons this display and result against one of Europe’s best nations in Women’s football should instill confidence within the team ahead of the qualifying campaign.
“Italy will be contender for a medal at this season’s European Championship finals, which illustrates how well the team performed today,” said King
“We started brightly, got a deserved lead goal and weathered a mini-storm in the second half. It gives us plenty of confidence for the trip to Turkey in October.”
King’s assistant, Harry Kenny, also outlined the positives from the week’s work. ”The squad has learned plenty by playing against three teams of various styles. To defeat a top side like Italy is marvelous but it was no more than the Girls merited.”
Midfielder Ciara Grant was voted Ireland’s player of the tournament by the organising committee and Sinead Crotty picked up the overall Goalkeeper of the tournament prize.
Republic of Ireland U17 Women:
Sinead Crotty - Connecticut FC
Bronagh Kerins - Strand Celtic
Tanya Kennedy - Finn Valey
Rebecca Walsh - Salthill Devon
Megan Campbell - Drogheda United
Joanna Byrne - Eureka Kells
Maria Delahunty - Benfica
Ciara Grant - Kilmacrennan Celtic
Kirsty Keogh - St Catherines
Rosanne Maguire - Stella Maris
Yvonne Cahill - Lakewood Ath
Niamh McLaughlin - Greencastle FC (for Maguire – 55 mins)
Ciara O'Brien - Tramore AFC (for Cahill – 65 mins)
Maria Harrington - Westport Utd (for Byrne – 70 mins)
Rachel Mullins - Wilton Utd
Katherine Flood - Dundalk WFC
Naomi Carroll - Lifford
Orla Devanney - Ballina Town
Tuesday, August 19
Republic of Ireland 3-1 Poland
Thursday, August 21
Republic of Ireland 0-1 Russia
Saturday, August 23
Italy 0-1 Republic of Ireland.