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Sweden end Ireland's hopes

DEFENDING champions Sweden denied Ireland a place in the finals of the European U-19 Women's Championship by scoring two late goals in the Hague.

Needing just a draw from their final elite qualifier to finish top of the group, Ireland were on track at the break, having bossed the first half despite being without key players Rianna Jarrett and Clare Shine.

Things could have been even better as Shamrock Rovers midfielder Orlagh Nolan, deputising for Shine, shot narrowly wide on 40 minutes.

However, with the game evenly poised midway through the second half, the Swedes grabbed the vital opener on 69 minutes when Marija Banusic raced clear to round goalkeeper Jillian Maloney and tap the ball home.

Dave Connell's charges dug deep as they desperately went all-out in search of an equaliser, but their hopes of reaching the finals, which will be played in Wales in August, evaporated with six minutes left when Mimmie Lofwenius set up Pauline Hammarlund to score Sweden's second.

IRELAND – J Maloney (GSA 95 Phoenix Red); G Wright (Challenge FC, USA), C Mustaki (Peamount Utd), C O'Connell (Cork), L Murphy (Cork); D O'Sullivan (Cork), E Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic), J Berrill (Peamount); K McCabe (Raheny Utd), G McGuinness (Greencastle). O Nolan (Shamrock Rovers). Subs: S Rowe (Castlebar Celtic) for Nolan (62), S Newman (Raheny Utd) for McGuinness (83), K Halligan (Blackburn Rvs) for Rowe (89).

Irish Independent