Manager Harry Kenny was assistant to former boss Noel King two seasons ago when the U17s became the first Irish women’s side to qualify for a major finals but the odds of him leading this side to Nyon in May now look remote.
The Irish held their own on the artificial surface of the Briskebyen Stadium up until midway through the second half when France hit three goals in the space of 10 minutes.
For Kenny’s girls to secure top spot and a place in the finals, they must win their remaining games against hosts Norway tomorrow and Poland on Saturday and hope the French lose at least one of their two remaining games.
“We had a couple of chances to score through Claire Shine and Amber Barrett but, overall, France were the better team,” admitted former Shamrock Rovers full-back Kenny.
“It was pleasing that we matched them for so long in the game and credit must go to our players for doing so against one of the best nations in Europe.
“As only the top team from the group qualifies, we’ve a job on our hands to finish ahead of France but the priority now is to win our next game against Norway and see what happens from there.”
Norway defeated Poland in the other group game played yesterday.
IRELAND U17: J Maloney (GSA 95 Phoenix Red); S Newman (Raheny United), M Fitzpatrick (Atlanta Fire), L Dwyer (St Joseph’s Carlow), C O’Connell (Cork League); C Mustaki (Peamount United), A O’Connor (Wilton United), L Bowles (Castlebar Celtic); K McCabe (Raheny United), A Barrett (Milford United), C Shine (Cork League).
Subs: M Farrell (Longford Town) for Barrett (67), C Johnson (Everton) for Newman (74), S Rowe (Ballina Town) for McCabe (78).