Northern Ireland’s women’s international futsal team registered “two good wins” against Gibraltar over the weekend.
They followed up a 5-1 victory over the visitors with a 4-0 success. Both games were played at Newry Leisure Centre.
The head coach of the women’s team, Keith Gibson, said: “I was really pleased with the effort and attitude of the squad all weekend. They worked really hard leading up to these games and it was great to see that effort rewarded with two good wins.”
It was the squad’s first games since last April and the double header in Newry on Friday and Saturday provided a good opportunity to help them prepare for the sterner test of European qualifiers in May, according to the head coach.
“With four debutants it was an opportunity for the coaching team to see how far the team have moved on in their learning of the game,” he said.
In the first of the friendlies Northern Ireland came flying out of the blocks and had Gibraltar on the back foot with fast, incisive futsal.
Lots of chances were created in the opening 10 minutes with the Gibraltar keeper making great saves from Beth McKay and Abbie Magee before a well worked set piece saw striker Amber Dempster smash an effort into the corner of the net.
This drove Northern Ireland on further and it was debutant Shannon Dunne who struck next from the edge of the area.
Skipper Nadene Caldwell made it 3-0 before McKay added a fourth just before the half-time whistle.
In the second half the girls in green and white took the foot off the pedal somewhat, although Magee, another debutant, pounced to make it 5-0.
Northern Ireland conceded a sloppy late goal, however it didn’t take the shine off a commanding performance where they controlled the game well and perhaps should have scored more.
A big crowd filled Newry Leisure Centre on Saturday night to welcome both teams back for the second game.
It was another dominant performance from Northern Ireland. Gibraltar sat deep and defended superbly until Dempster again opened the scoring with a well struck shot. Then captain marvel Caldwell added a brace to make it 3-0 at half-time.
During the interval the crowd were entertained by the U9 girls from Damolly Youth and Camlough Rovers showing off their futsal skills.
The second half started brightly with Northern Ireland continuing to dominate and it was Rachel McConnell who scored the fourth and final goal with a good hit from a difficult angle.