Ireland U-17s can hold heads up high - Connell
Ireland Women's U-17s ended their European Championships run in defeat to Norway yesterday. Dave Connell's team knew that they would not be making it out of Group B going into this game but still fought hard and deserved something from it.
Norway's goals came when Jenny Norem profited from a loose ball at the back post and they got a second just before the break through Ingrid Kvernvolden's long-range strike.
"We played some fantastic football but we just didn't score a goal. I'm very, very proud of our girls and we can hold our heads up high with how we've played in this tournament," said Connell.
"It was a fantastic achievement to qualify and we performed well in our three games, but just didn't get that bit of luck."
Similar to their two previous games in this tournament - narrow losses to France and Switzerland - Ireland started brightly in their 4-3-3 formation and largely dictated the tempo with their running and passing.
But they just weren't clinical at key moments, such as when Eleanor Ryan Doyle volleyed over after a clever scooped pass from Saoirse Noonan or when Heather Payne's shot was deflected wide.
Norway, were more fortunate than clinical in front of goal. Norem scored when goalkeeper Amanda McQuillan dropped a cross and she poked the ball in at the back post.
Connell's side fought back but Norway had a couple of more chances - headers wide by Andrea Norheim and Kvernvolden - before they scored again with Kvernvolden spinning off McQuillan and into the net.
In the three games McQuillan has been simply outstanding and is destined to become a senior international, but she didn't have much luck on both goals. And that summed up Ireland's three games - unrewarded for positive play.
Connell brought on Dearbhaile Beirne and Lucy McCartan, and switched captain Jamie Finn into midfield, where she was able to have more of an influence.
Goalscoring opportunities started to fall for Ireland as Jessica Nolan, Ryan Doyle, and Finn all went close before Finn earned a penalty, which she took and unfortunately the ball clipped the crossbar and went over.
Just before that chance McQuillan made a truly wonderful diving save to keep out an effort from Kvernvolden. Up the other end, Ireland continued to press forward and Ryan Doyle fired a shot just wide. Norway took the points at the end of this game, but they bowed out of the tournament along with Ireland as France and Switzerland progressed from Group B into the semi-finals.
IRELAND - McQuillan, Donnelly, Finn, Moloney, Nolan, Daly, Noonan, Meaney, McKevitt, Ryan-Doyle, Payne Subs: Maher (80), McCartan (52) Beirne (52)
NORWAY - Saevik, Ellingsen, Suphellen, Nilsen, Haaland; Syrstad Engen, Maanum; Norem, Norheim, Hafnor; Kvernvolden. Subs: Sand (h-t ), Dovie (65), Lofshus (75)
REF - V Raudzina (Latvia)
ireland u-17s 0
norway u-17s 2