Savanna Captains Ireland’s 17’s

Connell announces Ireland squad for UEFA WU17 Championships Elite Phase

REPUBLIC of Ireland Women’s U17s Head Coach Dave Connell has announced his squad for next week’s Elite Phase of the UEFA WU17 Championships qualifiers in Romania.

While Connell is tied up with UEFA WU19 Championship duties this week in Dublin, the Irish coach has not taken his eye off the forthcoming tests for the younger international side.

The Irish will face last year’s beaten finalists Spain in their opening fixture on Monday, September 30 (12.00 noon) then meet Iceland on Wednesday, October 2, and hosts Romania on Saturday, October 5.

“There has been a lot of work done from all of the staff with two tournaments running back to back but we’ve just gone on with it,” said Connell.

“This is an unusual situation as with the FIFA WU17 World Cup coming up next year there was a need for UEFA to get the elite phase of the qualifying done prior to Christmas and normally that would take place in the New Year.

“We love doing it and we’ve brought the U17s together with the U19s as often as possible and that has helped bring out the best in a lot of the younger players. The U17s played the U19s last week and the U19s were shocked how good they are. We’re quietly confident we can do a job.”

Connell’s side came through their First Qualifying Round in Russia in August but he acknowledges that the stakes are much higher now with only the six group winners and the runner-up with the best record joining hosts England in the final tournament in November.

“It’s a tough group. Spain have won it before and were runners-up recently. Their record speaks for itself. It’s a challenge but perhaps we’ll have the element of surprise,” added Connell.

“A lot of the girls who played for us in the elite qualifying round of this competition in Austria last year are still eligible and felt they didn’t do themselves justice in March. They’re really looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“We feel we can perform but we’re not underestimating the size of the task. Iceland are a top nation in women’s football. Romania are the hosts so they’ll obviously have every incentive. We’ll know them by the time we face them in our last fixture.

“Naturally we’re focusing on the first game against Spain. The continuity in our set-up is good. We had a lot of them together at the U16s development tournament in May then played in Russia last month. It’s all come fairly quickly.

“It’s hard to qualify for the finals of this competition but if we can get any result in our first game the momentum can carry us on. Usually we play the highest seeded side in the final fixture so maybe this way will work better for us.”

Connell’s plan were disrupted by the loss of Jamie Finn with a stress fracture of the fibula so out of the tournament. Meanwhile, Manulla FC’s Jess Nolan is still awaiting FIFA clearance. The UK-born Mayo native has lived in Ireland for more than seven years but does not have Irish parentage and has been processing her citizenship through residency.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD:

Brooke Dunne (Peamount United)

Amanda McQuillan (Shelbourne FC)

Savannah McCarthy (Listowel Celtic)

Meagan Connolly (College Corinthians)

Keeva Keenan (Shelbourne FC)

Eleanor Ryan-Doyle (Peamount United)

Courtney Higgins (Shelbourne FC)

Roma McLaughlin (Greencastle FC)

Sarah Jane McDonald (Greencastle FC)

Jessica Gargan (Peamount United)

Evelyn Daly (Lakewood FC)

Dearbhaile Beirne (Peamount United)

Hayley Nolan (Peamount United)

Jenny Clifford (Evergreen FC)

Eleanor Stafford (Salthill Devon)

Sarah McKevitt (Borris St Kevins FC)

Lucy McCarton (Peamount United)

Megan Lynch (Shelbourne FC)

FIXTURES

Monday, September 30

Spain v Republic of Ireland, Football Centre FRF, Buftea (ROU) (12.00pm Irish).

Wednesday, October 2

Republic of Ireland v Iceland, Football Centre FRF, Buftea (ROU) (3.00pm Irish).

Saturday, October 5

Romania v Republic of Ireland, Football Centre FRF, Mogosoaia (ROU) (9.00am Irish).