26.06.2010 at 15:00
0 - 0
Womens International Under 17
European Finals / r-match
Courageous Irish fall to Spain on penalties
Created on Saturday, 26 June 2010 13:00
UEFA Championship Final - Women's U17
Republic of Ireland 0 - 0 Spain U17 (AET)*
* Spain win 4-1 on penalties
Spain out-scored Ireland in a penalty shoot-out to win the UEFA U17 Women's Championship today after an absorbing final that stretched beyond the 80 minutes into 20 minutes extra time without producing a goal.
There was precious little to choose between two well-matched teams on the day with Ireland looking to their goalkeeper Grace Moloney to provide the inspiration against a skilful Spanish side. Moloney and her defensive partners were superb as Ireland played very disciplined football to go close to winning a first European Championship in women's football.
Ireland also had their scoring chances but they also ran up against a very capable defence and despite the selfless running of centre-forward Denise O'Sullivan they were unable to find a goal.
A penalty shoot-out looked highly likely from an early stage but, disappointingly for Ireland, they were unable to match Spain when it arrived. The Spanish goalkeeper saved Ireland's first two penalty attempts from Rianna Jarrett and Jessica Gleeson and although Ciara O'Brien converted Ireland's third penalty, Spain had already their first three penalties successfully converted at that point.
Goalkeeper Moloney guessed correctly for each of the Spanish penalties but they were scored with such accuracy that she was unable to deny them, despite getting her hands to the first Spanish penalty. When Spain's fourth penalty taker again found the back of the Irish net, the final was decided and a brave Ireland had to be content with runners-up honours after their magnificent campaign.
The temperatures soared so high in Nyon, Switzerland, that "water breaks" were deemed necessary to ensure the players were not dehydrated when the final of the UEFA Championship for women's U17 teams kicked-off in glorious sunshine.
The referee brought play to a temporary halt at the Colovary Stadium after 20 minutes to allow the players take on water in the interest of player safety.
The contest was disputed in spirited fashion by two talented teams, fired with ambition of lifting a coveted European Championship crown.
Spain predictably showed themselves the more methodical and constructive team and had the better scoring chances in the opening half. They failed, however, to get an effective finishing effort on target as Ireland worked diligently to limit their opportunities.
Ireland were well-balanced and well organised and while their build-up play was not as measured as Spain's they carried their own threat with Stacie Donnelly linking well with her colleagues and Denise O'Sullivan stretching Spain's defenders with her pace and appetite for work.
Ireland suffered the disappointment of losing their left-back Megan Campbell eight minutes into the second half due to heat exhaustion as Harriet Scott of Reading came on to make her debut in the UEFA Championship final.
Campbell, from St. Francis club, was understandably upset at having to withdraw from the game. She was Ireland's match-winner in the semi-final with a cracking goal from a free-kick that enabled them defeat the reigning European champions, Germany.
Ireland had a let-off in the 56th minute when Spain's captain, Sampedro, looped a shot over the head of Ireland's goalkeeper, Grace Moloney, from 20 yards only to see the goal ruled out by a whistle from the referee. The Spanish player had come back from an offside position.
It was Spain's turn to breathe a sigh of relief after 66 minutes when Aileen Gilroy hammered a powerful shot at goal from a central position 25 yards from goal. Spain's goalkeeper was at full stretch to turn the ball to safety and Spain responded immediately to their good fortune by racing down the pitch for Sampedro to hit the woodwork to the relief of goalkeeper Moloney.
Ireland improved as the game aged and they showed a developing threat in attack as they began to win more possession and confined play for long minutes to Spain's half.
Ireland were close again in the 70th minute when substitute Niamh McLaughlin had a corner returned to her on the left wing and her stinging shot crashed narrowly wide and into the side netting.
The remaining minutes were full of exciting play but lacking in goals and the game moved into extra time of ten minutes each way.
The first half of extra time failed to produce a scoring attempt on target as the players on both teams began to show signs of tiredness in the sapping heat. It began to look as if the game would have to be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
The final ten minutes of extra time slipped away, again without a goal as the game moved into a penalty shoot-out decider.
With a remarkable record, Ireland finished the European Championships undefeated without conceding a goal in the UEFA Championship finals against Germany and Spain.
As a result of today's match, Ireland will now play Brazil, Ghana and Canada in Group D of the FIFA World Cup which will take place in Trinidad and Tobago from September 5-25.
Republic of Ireland: Grace Moloney, Ciara O'Brien, Megan Campbell, Jessica Gleeson, Jennifer Byrne, Ciara Grant, Aileen Gilroy, Dora Gorman (C), Denise O'Sullivan, Siobhan Killeen, Stacie Donnelly.
Substitutes: Niamh McLaughlin (on for Killeen, 69 mins), Rianna Jarrett (on for Gilroy 98 mins), Tanya Kennedy, Kerry Glynn, Amanda Budden, Claire Shine, Harriet Scott (on for Megan Campbell, 49 mins).