Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Portugal
Ireland got their UEFA Women’s under-19 Elite Phase qualification series off to a winning start against Portugal today at the Stade Robert Barran in France.
Stella Maris striker Aine O’Gorman scored the only goal of the game in first half injury-time to give Sue Ronan’s side a precious three points and bolster their prospects of reaching the European Championship Finals in July.
Senior International, O’Gorman seized upon the opportunity to shoot home after she turned brilliantly inside of the penalty area and beat the goalkeeper with a shot that struck the post before nestling in the net.
The Irish had other chances to extend their winning margin through Noelle Murray and Elaine Murray but in the end, manager Sue Ronan was glad to have got the victory against a resolute Portuguese team.
Ireland are participating in the quadrangular series on a round-robin basis alongside Portugal, Holland and France where only the nation that finishes top of the group are guaranteed to progress to the Finals in Iceland. The six group winners will join the hosts in the Finals and there is one qualification slot available for the best-placed runners-up from the six groups.
The next game for Ireland comes on Wednesday against Holland before they meet France on Friday in their last game.
Ireland struggled to settle early on in the game but the pace of their strikers still troubled Portugal. O’Gorman sped past her marker inside the first ten minutes but couldn’t convert from close-range and Noelle Murray was also off-target with a golden opportunity.
Portugal threatened the Irish goal five minutes before half-time when an uncharacteristic error by Louise Quinn allowed her opposing striker get a shot in but Lyn Dowling - Bradley was equal to task and saved to keep the game scoreless.
That event would prove to be the pivotal incident of the match as Ireland took the lead on the stroke of half-time and held on to register three points on the board.
Manager Sue Ronan hopes that her team can improve for the next match against the Dutch.
“It was a better result than performance,” admitted Ronan after the game. “We had played extremely well in our last three friendly matches before this but it was a poor display overall against Portugal.
“I said to the team before the game that a 1-0 win would do and that’s the way it turned out. I really hope that we’ve got a bad performance out of the system because Holland and France are both top-class teams and we need to be at our best to get the results to further our chances of qualifying from the group.”
Republic of Ireland: Lyn Dowling – Bradley (Raheny Utd), Grace Murray (Dundalk City), Meabh De Burca (Salthill Devon), Christina Byrne (Raheny Utd), Louise Quinn (Peamount Utd), Diane Caldwell (Hofstra University), Noelle Murray (Raheny Utd), Áine O’Gorman (Stella Maris), Susan Hackett (Stella Maris), Seana Cooke (Arsenal), Jennifer Critchley (Lifford).
Subs: Elaine Murray (Raheny Utd) for Critchley (57 min), Aoife Herbert (Ballina Town) for Byrne (75 min) and Leona Archibald (Mullingar Ath) for Caldwell (88 mins).
Ireland’s remaining fixtures:
Wednesday 11th April:
REP. OF IRELAND V HOLLAND
(St. John de Braye Stadium) - 16.00 HRS (local time)
Saturday 14th April:
REP. OF IRELAND V FRANCE
(Stade Omnisports) - 16.00 HRS (local time)