Lacey Stafford set to face Juventus in the Middle East

Tom O'shea, FAI Regional run, Manager for South, with all the latest soccer news

ST. Brendan's Park soccer player Jesse Stafford Lacey could be facing Juventus later this month when he travels to Qatar with the Republic of Ireland under-15 side that will play the Italian club in a friendly game at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar, later this month.

Niall Harrison's side had initially been scheduled to play two games against the Aspire Academy squad but the opportunity to meet the Italians on Tuesday December 18th will now be taken up.

"Juventus are in Qatar at the same time as us so the proposition was put forward to make it a three team mini-tournament and we jumped at that," said Harrison. "It's always great to give our players the opportunity to play against teams with different styles and characteristics than they are used to playing. Juventus are one of the best clubs in the world so I can only imagine their underage teams would have a lot of talented players who would be looking to push towards playing for their country. Ireland women lose but Byrne inspires

The Irish Senior Womens team played the USA on Saturday in front of a crowd of 11,570 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and a national television audience in the second of two friendly games. Ireland bounced back from last Wednesday's 5-0 defeat with a strong defensive display to prevent another rout but it wasn't enough to prevent the No.1 ranked team in the world from registering a 2-0 win with goals from Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe and extending their current unbeaten run to an impressive 20 games.

Coach Sue Ronan could have been forgiven for fearing the worst after just 44 seconds when the American took the lead through star striker Alex Morgan who had scored a first-half hat-trick on Wednesday night. Midfielder Lauren Cheney slipped a perfectly-weighted pass behind the Ireland defence and Morgan, who had made a penetrating lashed a shot from 10 yards out past Byrne and into the bottom right corner.

In the previous ten games between the countries, the USA had scored five goals in six of those games and Morgan's 28th goal of the year seemed to suggest that a seventh five goal defeat was on the way especially when Rapinoe doubled the USA's lead in the 28th minute. Amy LePeilbet played a long ball down the left wing to Morgan who took the ball to the end line before pulling it back for the in-rushing Rapinoe. She hit her shot first-time from 14 yards, past the wrong-footed Byrne, off the leg of a scrambling defender and into the net.

The score would have been much higher if not for some heroics from the six-foot Byrne, who made five spectacular saves in the second half, three of them on excellent efforts from Carli Lloyd. Ireland created few chances during the game but nonetheless finish 2012 with a credible display against the four-time Olympic champions which will give Ronan plenty to build on heading into 2013 and the build-up to the start of the FIFA 2015 World Cup qualifiers.

Soccer Shorts

Tickets for Ireland's friendly against Poland (Aviva Stadium Wednesday 6th February) are now on sale with Adult Tickets from €20 and Kids Tickets from €10 - nice stocking filler for Christmas. Visit

Diarmuid O'Carroll's Cliftonville remain five points clear in the Irish League table after a three all draw with Portadown.

Anthony Forde (ex Kingdom Boys) was an unused sub as Wolves win away at Bristol City (Kevin Doyle scoring twice).

Brendan Moloney (ex Killarney Athletic) was also left on the bench as Nottingham Forest went down to Hull for whom Paul McShane scored the winner and Robbie Brady and David Meyler both started.