Irish fail to hit spot in Euro final
Spain won 4 - 1 on penalties
The European dream is over for the Ireland under 17 ladies team after a heroic display in the UEFA Women's Championship final yesterday in Nyon, Switzerland.
Spain had the better of play in the 100 minutes but it was only when spot-kicks came that they were able to defeat Noel King's side. Spanish goalkeeper Dolores Gallardo saved Ireland's first two penalties from Rianna Jarrett and Jessica Gleeson and although Ciara O'Brien converted Ireland's third penalty, Spain had already converted their first three penalties at that point.
As expected, Spain were on the attack from the opening minute, giving the Irish ladies little chance to settle. Ireland's attempts on goal were sparse but Denise O'Sullivan diligently worked at exposing the wandering Spanish back four and she managed to trouble Gall-ardo on 15 minutes to instil some confidence in the Irish team.
On the half hour, Spain put together the move of the match to prise open the Irish defence.
Sara Mérida, Raquel Pinel and Iraia Perez de Heredia exchanged passes to play Pinel through but she put her shot over the bar. In a pacy opening to the second half, Spain came close to going ahead with three successive goal chances. Amanda Sampedro, the Spain captain, led the onslaught, firing past Grace Moloney but her effort was ruled out for offside.
Ireland were next to come close to the opener when Aileen Gilroy's shot from 25 metres was well saved by Gallardo.
The introduction of Niamh McLaughlin late in the second half invigorated Ireland and for the last five minutes of normal time, the attacking advantage was with the girls in green.
Two periods of extra-time ensued and although Spain had numerous chances to go ahead, the Irish defence held on only to lose out in the shootout.
Ireland: G Moloney; J Gleeson, C O'Brien, J Byrne, M Campbell (H Scott); A Gilroy (R Jarrett), C Grant, D Gorman, S Killeen (N McLaughlin); SJ Donnelly, D O'Sullivan
Spain: D Gallardo; A Sáenz de Pipaon, A Catala, I Andrés, L Gutiérrez; M García, A Sampedro, A Putellas Segura (Altonaga), I Perez de Heredia (Calderón); S Mérida, R Pinel (Lazaro)