Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team face a tough mission in France in the coming days.
They will be competing in League A in the first round of qualifiers for the UEFA WU19 Euros 2024 – and they will be up against quality opposition.
The WU19s have been drawn in Group A1 alongside France, Italy and Hungary, with the mini tournament being staged in the Occitanie region in southern France.
It will be Gail Redmond’s first series of competitive matches in charge of the WU19s since she was appointed WU19s and WU17s boss back in April.
And she has chosen a 20-strong panel for the first round of qualifiers for the 2023-24 edition of the WU19 European Championship.
First up for Northern Ireland is a game against the hosts on Wednesday (25 October). They will be taking on the French at Stade Jean Verbeke in Montauban, with a 3pm BST kick-off.
Matchday two for the WU19s is on Saturday when they will come up against the Italians – at the same venue at noon BST.
And they will be back at Stade Jean Verbeke next Tuesday for their final Group A1 match against Hungary (4pm start).
Northern Ireland warmed up for the Euro qualifiers in France with a 1-0 victory over Republic of Ireland in a friendly. Northern Ireland’s goal in that game, which was played at the Blanchflower Stadium in Belfast at the end of last month, was scored by Keri Halliday.
Redmond’s squad shows a couple of changes from the one chosen to face the Republic.
Coming in to the squad are Larne Ladies keeper Kate Smith and Burnley Ladies defender Mikayla Wildgoose.
Missing out this time are Glentoran Women keeper Ellie Scott and Glentoran Women defender Rebecca Magee.
The WU19s squad for the three games in France is as follows:
Goalkeepers – Erin McAllister (Linfield Ladies), Kate Smith (Larne Ladies).
Defenders –Sofie Keenan and Abi Sweetlove (both Linfield Ladies), Sarah Tweedie (Glentoran Women), Orleigha McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Niamh O’Donnell (Mid-Ulster Ladies), Faye Loughran (Lisburn Rangers Ladies), Mikayla Wildgoose (Burnley Ladies).
Midfielders – Rhyleigh Marks and Sophie Gargan (both Linfield Ladies), Megan Neill and Maeve McConaghy (both Glentoran Women), Aoibhe O’Neill (Sion Swifts Ladies), Tara Reilly (Cliftonville Ladies), Aimee Kerr (pictured above, Ballyclare Comrades Ladies).
Forwards – Rachel McIntyre and Kascie Weir (both Glentoran Women), Keri Halliday (Linfield Ladies), Naomi McLaughlin-Gallagher (Sion Swifts Ladies).
In the frame: Striker Kascie Weir is off to France with Northern Ireland’s WU19s fresh from winning the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup with Glentoran Women at the weekend.