Connell hopes his students can top class and make world final
After the huge interest generated by the recent Women's World Cup in France, an Irish side are poised to make their mark on the world stage today with Ireland facing North Korea in the World University Games semi-final at the Stadio Arechi, Salerno, Italy (4.0).
Dave Connell is the head coach of the student side and he has been widely tipped to move up from the Republic of Ireland U-19s to replace the recently-departed Colin Bell in a similar role with the Ireland senior women's team.
Connell has been highly successful in guiding this side to their first semi-final appearance at a World University Games since 2007, with wins over Brazil (1-0), South Korea (2-1) and a quarter-final 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory over China following a scoreless draw last time out.
So the hopes of an Ireland team getting in amongst the medals at a World Games is now very much alive, and although North Korea - who have already seen off Canada, South Africa and hosts Italy, scoring 16 goals and conceding just two in the process - will pose another test for his team, Connell remains confident of getting a result with a big prize at stake.
"It's been fantastic working with this group since day one when we met up in Limerick a couple of weeks ago right up till now and the dream of picking up a medal is very much alive after the performances we have put in over the three games," said Connell.
"China were a top side and they made it very hard for us to break them down but the girls showed great character and patience and stuck to our game-plan.
"Luckily, we had practised penalty kicks so that stood to us in the what is always a difficult situation," he added.