Euro star Shine eyes senior start

HOMECOMING HEROES: The Republic of Ireland squad on their return to Dublin following the UEFA U19 Women's European Championship finals. Picture: Ramsey Cardy

Now that she’s ended her golden spell with Ireland’s underage teams, Cork girl Clare Shine has senior honours in her sights.

Shine and her U19 team-mates arrived home in Dublin airport yesterday to an ecstatic ovation on foot of their exploits at the Uefa European Championship finals.

The Douglas native sparked Ireland’s great run in Norway by scoring the winner against Spain in their group opener 11 days ago.

Despite that blistering start to the finals being added by victories over England and Sweden, Shine’s Ireland came unstuck in Thursday’s semi-final against the Netherlands.

The Girls in Green were unlucky to meet a Dutch team peaking after a slow group campaign.

Ireland’s 4-0 defeat threatened to overshadow what had been a brilliant debut appearance at the showpiece by Dave Connell’s Ireland team.

However, speaking yesterday upon the squad’s return, Shine took a considered opinion of the four games — fiercely adamant the players are capable of thriving again at underage level or, in her case, in the full ranks.

“We went into the tournament believing we could win it but I didn’t expect us to win all three matches in the group,” she said.

“This was a step-up in class to anything we’d experience before as players, and will benefit our careers.

“The expectations are set high by our manager Dave Connell and his assistant Dave Bell anyway but I know that, with 12 of this squad underage for next season’s U19 campaign, they can qualify for the finals again.

“They’re a talented bunch and I wish them all the best. I’m looking towards the seniors now and will continue to work on my strengths and weaknesses.”

Having burst onto the international scene as a 15-year-old at the U17 World Cup in 2010, Shine found her role within the group dynamic this time a slightly difference experience.

“I used to be the baby of Ireland squads in the past but was second oldest in the group for this U19 finals,” she explained.

“I really enjoyed everything about the finals and it was brilliant to get such a nice homecoming at the airport.”

FAI chief executive John Delaney and Women’s FAI chair Niamh O’Donoghue were present in Terminal One to greet the returning party.

“The performances the girls have put in throughout the year were all the more impressive when you consider the numbers playing in more established countries in women’s football including the Netherlands, Spain, England and Sweden who they met this week,” said Delaney, who travelled back from the FAI’s festival of football in Athlone for the occasion.


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