Having reached tonight’s UEFA U19 European Championship semi-final in Oslo, Irelanddefender Savannah McCarthy has no intention on settling for second best.
The Netherlands stand between Ireland and a place in Sunday’s final at the national Ullevaal Stadium, presenting the platform for the players to etch their name into thehistory books.
In a season Ireland’s male equivalents – at senior, U21 and U19 – didn’t come within a sniff of reaching the European finals, Dave Connell girls are the standard bearers across the continent for Irish football. Kerry native McCarthyepitomises everything about these Irish heroines, possessing courage, ambition and, most tellingly, talent, in spade. That she’s eligible for another two U19 campaigns doesn’t quell the centre-back’s desire to reach the top at the first attempt. Goals in each of the wins over England and Sweden only added to the contribution she made at the back towards Ireland topping Group B.
“There are only two gamesbefore we can become European champions, so we’re here to win the title,” said the Listowel Celtic player.
“Reaching the finals was brilliant and we’ve already achieved something by winning our group and getting to the semis. Now it’s on to the next step, and that’s reaching the final.”
Ireland manager Dave Connell has a selection dilemma tocontend with as Clare Shine is fully fit after shaking off a neck injury. The Cork striker waslimited to a substitute’s outing in Monday’s win over Sweden.
He said: “We drew with the Netherlands earlier this season but I know we can play better. The Dutch didn’t like playing against us and we’ll be ready for them.
“Of course, they’re a country with a massive football tradition but I doubt very much that they have as much camaraderie as our team.”
IRELAND (probable): Dunne (Peamount Utd); Wright (Texas University), McCarthy (Listowel Celtic), O’Connell (Wilton), Mustaki (Peamount Utd); O’Connor (Wilton), Dwyer (Wexford Yths), Connolly (College Corinthians); McCabe (Raheny Utd), Shine (Raheny Utd), Rowe (Castlebar Celtic).
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