The Republic of Ireland women's U17 side today completed their UEFA Championship first qualifying phase in Slovenia with a well deserved 1-0 win against Denmark which means that Noel King's side top the group with maximum points with no goals conceded.
A 61st minute strike from Reading's Stacey Donnelly ensured that the U17 side continued the impressive form showed by all of the international teams in their respective UEFA and FIFA competitions this month following in the footsteps of the women's U19 team and the boys U17 team who both progressed to the elite qualifying phase in emphatic style.
Following the respective 5-0 and 3-0 victories over group hosts Slovenia and Turkey, Noel King's side went in to the deciding game against Denmark needing at least a point to guarantee their progress to the elite qualifying phase in Spring.
In an exciting encounter, the Irish dominated the majority of the game and but for the heroics of Tanja Rasmussen in Denmark's goal, the Irish could have scored more with Siobhan Killeen, Ciara Grant, Niamh McLoughlin and Dora Gorman all going close in the first half.
Ireland continued to dominate proceedings in the second half and they scored the winner in the 61st minute when Wilton United's Denise O'Sullivan made a darting run down the right wing and she delivered a pin point cross to Reading striker, Stacie Killeen who stabbed it home from close range.
Irish coach, Harry Kenny expressed his delight at the impressive results in Slovenia this week, "With only one team guaranteed to qualify from this difficult group with Denmark, Slovenia and Turkey, I am absolutely delighted that the girls came out of it with maximum points and in the process keeping three sheets. Since the tournament started, we felt that the team were performing better with every game and to defeat a top class footballing nation like Denmark so comprehensively is very satisfying," said Kenny.
"It would be very difficult to pick out any individuals from the three performances but the girls at the back were immense and the central midfielders, Dora O'Gorman and Ciara Grant bossed their opponents all week. This is a difficult competition against some of Europe's strongest teams at this level, to qualify from this group in such forceful style after missing out to Turkey in last year's first phase is even more enjoyable," he added.
Ireland will now 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.
Republic of Ireland
Kerry Ann Glynn