DAVE CONNELL believes that there is no stopping his Ireland U19 women's side after they secured a place in the semi-finals of the European Championship finals.
The Irish team pulled off a major achievement by topping their group at the U19 Euro finals in Norway, last night's 2-1 win over Sweden their third straight win and they now face Holland in the semi-final on Thursday, Megan Connolly's 80th minute goal the difference between the sides.
"I really hope the people of Ireland are proud of us. We finished the group on three wins and nine points, played three top nations and showed what we can do. I am absolutely delighted for the girls," said Connell, the veteran League of Ireland defender who has been in charge of the U19s since 2011 after his side beat the Swedes, following earlier wins over Spain and England.
"There's a lot of belief that we can go all the way. We are very hard to beat because of that belief and they showed amazing courage in this and the other two games.
"Not a lot of people gave us a chance before this tournament started. We have heart and belief, which I truly think is what drives us on.
"How far can we go? Of course we can go all the way. We have everything it takes to be champions. Their goal came quite early on, so there was plenty of time to get back into it. We showed great character out there and the girls really dug deep. We have two 17-year olds getting the goals. That says it all at this level," added Connell, who played for Bohemians, Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Ards, Drogheda United and Limerick and also managed Limerick and Galway United.
Ireland had to fight hard for their win as they were a goal down after only eight minutes, but a strike from Savannah McCarthy on 21 minutes got them level, and with 10 minutes of normal time left, Megan Connolly came up with the winner.
The College Corinthians player says that Connell deserves much of the credit for getting the team this far.
"I know Dave talks about this belief we have, and he has put it there. When we first saw the group, with Spain, England and Sweden, we weren't scared.
"That might sound surprising but we weren't. Dave has said we need to believe in ourselves, he planted the seed and we do, and here we are, ready for the semi-finals," she said, delighted with her winning goal.
"It is an indescribable feeling! This feeling you get, it really is the most amazing. It was really tough out there tonight.
I am pretty fit, although when you're out there in that heat, you don't feel fit.
"You just have to be mentally strong and push through it, and I think that's what we did."