Video preview of the Republic of Ireland under-19 women's Euro qualifier with Spain this evening
Published 15/07/2014 | 02:30
Whereas she was the baby of the squad when the Republic of Ireland women reached the U-17 World Cup in 2010, Clare Shine will be relied upon tonight when Dave Connell's U-19s contest their European Championship finals opener against Spain at the UKI Arena in Oslo (6.00pm Irish time).
Shine's career has soared since she featured in Noel King's squad for those finals in Trinidad and Tobago, making her the standout player in the panel aiming to emerge from the group stages as one of the two qualifiers for next week's semi-finals.
The Cork native is now 19 years old and playing at the highest level attainable for females in Ireland with league and cup winners Raheny United.
Cross-channel interest has followed her but the priority is gathering enough points from a group campaign that also includes matches against England on Friday and Sweden next Monday.
"I was only 15 the last time I was at a major tournament but the experience has stood to me," said Shine.
"To play against Brazil in the World Cup was something I'll always remember and has helped me progress. That's not only for myself but the other girls in this squad because they've all been asking me about what to expect.
"If we play like we're capable against Spain, we'll get a result. We didn't come to these finals in order to lose."
That Shine is part of the squad in Norway at all represents a minor miracle.
Only six weeks ago she was laid up in hospital having broken her leg while playing for her club.
She explained: "The doctors said my leg would be 12 weeks in a cast after which another six weeks of rehabilitation was then needed.
"I did think my chance of playing at the Euros was gone but, luckily for me, the bone healed quickly and I started working on my fitness."
What better way to make a comeback than at the biggest stage in Europe?
IRELAND (probable): Dunne; Wright, McCarthy, O'Connell, Dwyer; O'Connor, Mustaki, Connolly; McCabe, Shine, Rowe.
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