IRELAND’S golden girls last night advanced to the quarterfinals, in which they will face Japan on Friday, after a brilliant display to sink Ghana at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago.
Manager Noel King was consigned to the main stand after he was hit with a onematch ban following his dismissal against Canada.
However he was allowed into the dressing room before the match and whatever was said, and whoever said it, Ireland got off to an inspired start after five minutes.
Megan Campbell shaped up to send a left-wing set-piece into the area. But the St Francis full-back's free-kick drifted over the head of Ghana keeper Margaret Otoo and landed inside the far post.
Only Campbell could say whether it was a fluke or not but no one minded in the Irish camp as the Drogheda native wheeled away in celebration.
Campbell set up a chance for Aileen Gilroy two minutes later when she crossed into the path of the in-rushing Killala winger, but Gilroy's glancing header bounced just wide.
It was another Reading youngster Stacie Donnelly who doubled Ireland's lead nine minutes before half-time. Donnelly took advantage of poor defending by Ghana to rifle the ball into the roof of the net from 15 yards.
The Africans were offered a route back into the game on 43 minutes when Gilroy was adjudged to have brought down Beatrice Sesu two yards inside the area. However Mary Essiful sent her spot-kick wide. It was all plain sailing after the break and Gilroy provided the icing on the cake by firing home the third goal with a sensational 25-yard strike with 13 minutes to go.
IRELAND U-17: Moloney (Reading); O'Brien (Tramore), Gleeson (Tramore), Byrne (Bealnamulla), Campbell (St Francis); Gilroy (Killala), Grant (Kilmacrennan Celtic), Gorman (Salthill Devon), Killeen (Raheny United); Donnelly (Reading), O'Sullivan (Wilton United).
Subs: Jarrett (Northend United) for Donnelly 69, Scott (Reading) for Killeen 75, Hansberry (Strand Celtic) for Gilroy 87