Ireland aiming for stars after Shine stuns Spain
Ireland U-19 Women 1 Spain U-19 Women 0
Ireland's U-19 women conquered Spain last night in their European Championship finals opener, but jubilant manager Dave Connell had Sweden in his thoughts at the final whistle in Oslo.
Central to Ireland's motivation on the first night was the criticism they shipped from Swedish boss Calle Barrling following a friendly earlier in the season.
Their coach of the side Ireland face in Monday's concluding Group B fixture accused them of resorting to a physical and direct style in their game plan.
That myth was debunked in stunning fashion as the Girls in Green outplayed a nation Connell justifiably described as a superpower of world football.
Clare Shine's 54th-minute winner at the UKI Arena was the least Ireland deserved for their endeavours.
"I didn't like that flak coming from the Sweden manager but the players showed tonight they're well capable of playing with style," asserted Connell.
This triumph means that another three points from Friday's tie against England – beaten 2-0 by Sweden in yesterday's group game – guarantees Ireland progression into next week's semi-finals.
"The girls deserve great credit for beating one of the giants in world football," added Connell.
"I would have been content with a draw beforehand but we restricted Spain to long-range chances and could have won the game by more.
"Having been the better team in the first half, it instilled a belief in the players that they could finish the job off in the second half.
"They've been magnificent all season and I knew they were capable of matching any team."
Sarah Rowe should have fired Ireland ahead after just 30 seconds but she shot tamely following a slide-rule pass from Shine that left her free inside the box.
Against the run of play, Spain nearly struck on 11 minutes when Sonia Fraile's overhead kick rattled Brooke Dunne's post.
Still, with Shine and Katie McCabe causing the Spanish problems, it was only a matter of time before Ireland underlined that supremacy.
The inevitable breakthrough arrived when Marta Turmo's clearance was intercepted 10 yards out by Shine, who drilled a low shot past Sara Serrat in the Spanish goal.
Once in the lead, Ireland rarely looked troubled. Indeed, McCabe had valid claims for a penalty rejected when tripped by Turmo.
"We've got the first part out of the way but now it's about completing the mission against England on Friday," concluded Connell.
Ireland: Dunne; Wright, McCarthy, O'Connell, Mustaki; O'Connor, Dwyer, Connolly; McCabe, Shine (Carson 88), Rowe.
Spain: Serrat; Jimenez, Turmo, Murua, Garrote; Campo (Guijarro 59), Caldentey, Fraile; Redondo (Lopez 82), Garcia, Sanchez.
Referee: K Radik-Johan (POL)