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Monday 27 Nov 2023
WU19s to play Republic on Saturday

Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team will round off the year with a friendly against their counterparts from the Republic of Ireland.

Gail Redmond’s side are due to face the Republic’s WU19s this Saturday (2 December; 7.30pm) at the Blanchflower Stadium in east Belfast.

The two teams last met in September when the WU19s defeated the Republic 1-0 in a friendly. Northern Ireland’s goal in that game, which was also played at the Blanchflower Stadium, was scored by Keri Halliday.

Redmond will be without Halliday this time as she has been elevated to the senior squad for the upcoming UEFA Women’s Nations League games against Albania (away) and Republic of Ireland (home).

 

Last month the WU19s produced some spirited performances in League A in the qualifying first round of WU19 Euro 2024.

The WU19s boss had a 20-strong panel for that Group A1 mini tournament, but this time she will have 22 players to choose from.

Glentoran Women defender Rebecca Magee is back in the squad after missing out on the Euro qualifiers, while Redmond has called up Ballyclare Comrades Ladies defender Tara Gilmore for her first involvement in the Northern Ireland international set-up.

Also in the WU19s panel for the first time are Linfield Women striker Mia Moore and Linfield Women midfielder Lucy Johnston, who have both previously played for the WU17s.

Missing out this time is Cliftonville Ladies midfielder Tara Reilly.

In last month’s games in League A in the qualifying first round of WU19 Euro 2024 the WU19s came up against France, Italy and Hungary. The mini tournament was staged in the Occitanie region in southern France at the end of October.

It was Redmond’s first series of competitive matches in charge of the WU19s since she was appointed WU19s and WU17s boss back in April.

In their opening game in the four-team tournament they lost 4-0 to hosts France. They played with good energy and composure for long spells and battled hard against a physically strong and skilful French team.

On matchday two the WU19s lost out by three goals to nil against Italy. The final scoreline did not reflect the game. Northern Ireland matched the Italians for long spells and created some good chances. But Italy were more clinical in front of goal.

In their final game the WU19s drew one apiece with Hungary. They played some good football, creating lots of chances, and arguably should have won the contest at Stade Jean Verbeke in Montauban, which was the venue for all three of Northern Ireland’s games.

Northern Ireland and Hungary both ended their League A Group 1 campaigns with a point, however Hungary finished third in the group thanks to a superior goal difference.

The result meant Northern Ireland were relegated to League B for the second round of qualifiers next year.

The Republic finished third in their League A group behind Netherlands and Belgium.

The squad for the friendly against Republic of Ireland WU19s on Saturday is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Erin McAllister (Linfield Women), Kate Smith (Larne Women).

Defenders – Sofie Keenan and Abi Sweetlove (both Linfield Women), Orleigha McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Niamh O’Donnell (Mid-Ulster Ladies), Faye Loughran (Lisburn Rangers Ladies), Mikayla Wildgoose (Burnley Ladies), Tara Gilmore (Ballyclare Comrades Ladies), Rebecca Magee (Glentoran Women).

Midfielders – Sarah Tweedie, Megan Neill, Rhyleigh Marks and Lucy Johnston (both Linfield Women), Aoibhe O’Neill (Sion Swifts Ladies), Aimee Kerr (Ballyclare Comrades Ladies).

Forwards – Rachel McIntyre, Kascie Weir and Maeve McConaghy (all Glentoran Women), Sophie Gargan and Mia Moore (Linfield Women), Naomi McLaughlin-Gallagher (Sion Swifts Ladies).

Image: Northern Ireland’s Sophie Gargan and the Republic’s Freya Healy battle for possession during the WU19 friendly back in September.