Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team warmed up for Euro qualifiers next month by defeating Republic of Ireland’s WU19s 1-0 in a friendly. A late strike from Keri Halliday secured the victory in Belfast.
International challenge match
Northern Ireland WU19s 1 Republic of Ireland WU19s 0
Northern Ireland: Keri Halliday (81’)
Blanchflower Stadium, Belfast
24 September 2023
The friendly against the Republic was Gail Redmond’s first game in charge of the WU19s since she was appointed WU19s and WU17s boss back in April. She had a 20-strong panel to choose from for what was a preparation game ahead of the team competing in League A in the first round of qualifiers for the 2023-24 edition of the WU19 European Championship at the end of October.
How it happened
After a slow, cagey start the game burst into life, with chances created by both teams.
Northern Ireland keeper Ellie Scott comfortably held a good delivery from a corner before Rachel McIntyre played in Keri Halliday, however her shot went over the bar.
The visitors threatened from a free-kick on 25 minutes but the home defence held firm.
Scott produced a fine save before Orleigha McGuinness set up Aimee Kerr and her snapshot was well saved by Republic keeper Katie Keane.
And Keane was busy again when she held on to a header from Kascie Weir and tipped a Sophie Gargan blaster round the post.
Half-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 0 Republic of Ireland WU19s 0
Just after the break the woodwork at both ends came under severe pressure.
The Republic saw a couple of free-kicks and a sweet strike cannon off the bar and post respectively, while Northern Ireland defender Abi Sweetlove hit the bar with a well struck free-kick.
Just before Sweetlove’s effort Halliday chased down a back pass and steered the ball wide.
However, Halliday made no mistake with her next chance. On 81 minutes she latched on to a through ball and neatly slotted it into the bottom corner. It proved to be the only goal of the game.
The result and performance will hold the WU19s in good stead ahead of competing in League A in the first round of qualifiers for the UEFA WU19 Euros 2024. They have been drawn in Group A1 alongside France, Italy and Hungary. The mini tournament is due to be staged in Toulouse from 25 to 31 October.
Full-time: Northern Ireland WU19s 1 Republic of Ireland WU19s 0
Northern Ireland WU19s: Ellie Scott, Orleigha McGuinness, Sofie Keenan, Abi Sweetlove, Faye Loughran, Sarah Tweedie (captain), Aimee Kerr, Sophie Gargan, Kascie Weir, Keri Halliday, Rachel McIntyre.
Substitutes: (used) Naomi McLaughlin, Aoibhe O’Neill; (unused) Erin McAllister (GK), Megan Neil, Tara Reilly, Rhyleigh Marks, Rebecca Magee, Maeve McConaghy, Niamh O’Donnell.
Republic of Ireland WU19s: Katie Keane, Meabh Russell, Lia O’Leary, Kate Thompson, Jodie Loughrey, Jess Fitzgerald, Joy Ralph, Freya Healy, Ceola Bergin, Eve Dossen, Aoife Kelly.
Substitutes: Mary Phillips, Ellen Dolan, Katie McCann, Aoife Turner, Summer Lawless, Aoibhe Fleming, Hannah Healy, Isabel Ryan, Ruby McCarthy, Rola Olusola, Sophie Morrin.