Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 squad have been taking part in a training camp in Belfast this week which has included two matches against Republic of Ireland’s WU19s.
In the first game on Wednesday, played in Dublin, they were defeated 3-0, while this afternoon at The Dub in south Belfast they lost by two goals to nil.
It was an encouraging performance from Alfie Wylie’s WU19s today despite the final scoreline.
During the opening exchanges it was a cagey affair and few chances were created before the Republic’s Olivia Gibson fired a long range effort wide on 20 minutes.
Then Eve Reilly missed a good chance for the visitors before Laura Shine opened the scoring. Northern Ireland keeper Rachael Norney failed to deal with a looping cross and Shine pounced to turn the loose ball into the net.
Just before the break the Republic got their second when Jenna Slattery scored from the penalty spot.
Northern Ireland were brighter in the second half. Right back Kathryn McConnell was industrious, while Fi Morgan, who switched from the senior panel to play in the game, was composed at the back. Team captain Katie Dickson also impressed.
And Norney pulled off some fine saves before she was replaced by Lilie Crooks midway through the second half.
Northern Ireland’s best chance fell to striker Keri Halliday. She beat the keeper to the ball but clipped her shot just over the bar.
In Wednesday’s game played at the AUL Complex in Dublin, the Republic got off to a perfect start when Rebecca Watkins drilled the ball past Norney into the corner of the net after just six minutes.
Northern Ireland’s best chance came after 20 minutes when a mix-up at the back saw Katie Dickson have a strike at goal but ROI defender Jessie Stapleton was able to block the effort to put it behind for a corner.
On the hour mark Watkins made it 2-0 for Dave Connell’s team when she raced past the Northern Ireland defence and smashed the ball into the top corner.
Fifteen minutes later it was 3-0 to the home side. Aoibheann Clancy delivered a free-kick into the box and Republic sub Teegan Lynch was on hand to score with a close range volley.
This week’s training camp/matches for Northern Ireland WU19s formed part of the preparations for Women’s Euro qualifiers later this year.
Alfie Wylie’s team have been drawn in Group A5 with Switzerland, England and the Republic, with the games taking place in October.
After today’s game Wylie said this week’s camp had gone well and said it was good for his squad to measure themselves against a team they will face again in a few months’ time.
He explained he was missing quite a few players, however he was pleased with “the positives” in both matches and that there was now more depth to the squad, and he applauded players who had grasped the opportunity to develop their game.
Wylie also noted six players in last night’s senior squad for the friendly against Scotland were in the WU19 panel back in April, which showed the player pathway was working.
The WU19s training camp squad was as follows:
Goalkeepers - Rachael Norney (Cliftonville Ladies), Lilie Crooks (Mid Ulster Ladies).
Defenders - Jane McMaster and Kathryn McConnell (both Linfield Ladies), Fi Morgan and Shona Davis (both Cliftonville Ladies), Aimee Neal (Sion Swifts Ladies), Sarah Tweedie (1st Bangor).
Midfielders – Helen Parker, Talia Keenan and Tierna Bell (all Lisburn Rangers), Abbie McHenry and Erin Montgomery (Cliftonville Ladies), Darcy Boyle and Zoe Rodgers (both Crusaders Strikers), Lucy Johnston and Rhyleigh Marks (both Linfield Ladies).
Forwards – Eve Reilly and Ellie-Mae Dickson (both Lisburn Rangers), Katie Dickson and Cora Morgan (both Linfield Ladies), Cora Chambers (Sion Swifts Ladies), Keri Halliday (Ballymoney).