DAVE Connell’s Republic of Ireland Women’s U19 side made it two wins in three days against Northern Ireland with a 2-0 victory at the Queen’s University Sports Grounds in Belfast as two goals in three first-half minutes proved decisive for the visitors.
With 10 changes to the team that defeated Northern Ireland 3-0 at the AUL Complex in Dublin in the first game of the double header series on Wednesday, this was another polished performance from Ireland.
Connell’s decision to utilise all his playing options over the two games paid dividends ahead of the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Under-19 European Championship qualifiers in the autumn when Northern Ireland, England and Switzerland will provide the opposition.
Cork City striker Laura Shine fired Ireland in front in the 36th minute as she bundled the ball across the line after an initial shot from Emily Corbett caused havoc in the six-yard box after Meghan Carr had teed Aoife Cronin up for a great cross.
Three minutes later Treaty United’s Jenna Slattery, who impressed at centre-half, slotted home from the penalty spot after Olivia Gibson was bundled over in the box by Northern Ireland defender Shona Davis.
Captain Muireann Devaney almost added a third after the break when her 56th-minute shot was turned around the post by home goalkeeper Rachel Norney while Northern Ireland’s best chance fell to Keri Halliday who blazed over in the 77th minute.
Speaking after the game, Ireland manager Dave Connell reflected on a positive training camp for the team on their return to international football after the Covid enforced break.
“It’s been a very productive camp with the two wins the icing on the cake,” said Connell. “It was great to score five goals over the two matches with Northern Ireland and to keep two clean sheets as well.
"We made 10 changes today so the performance and the result just proves the strength in depth in this group and there are a few more players to come into contention as well.
“It is going to be difficult to narrow the group down to the squad for the European Championship qualifiers in October but it is really pleasing to have that problem.”
Connell and his players were also delighted to make a return to international football with the two games against Northern Ireland this week.
“It’s been great to be back on the pitch and we are all so grateful for the opportunity,” he added. “We understand why we couldn’t play during the pandemic, so many families have been affected by COVID-19 and it was completely understandable. But it’s great to be back now and we look forward to the qualifiers and the hard work ahead.”
Hayes Coen (Auskalnyte 61); Carr (McNamara 50), Slattery (Milner 75), Tuthill, O’Sullivan; Mangan (Neville 61), Devaney (O’Kane 61); Cronin (Callanan 50), Gibson (Lynch 50), Corbett (Fitzpatrick 75), Shine (McLaughlin 61).