Ireland’s Womens Under 17s side capped a good week for international football by qualifying for the Elite stage of the 2011 European U17 Championship after a dramatic 1-1 draw against Italy.
Winger Katie McCabe put Ireland ahead in the second half when her stinging corner kick was deflected into the goal by the Italian keeper after a strong first half performance.
McCabe was at the heart of Ireland’s attack for much of the game and she came close to opening the scoring in the first half when a well struck free kick flashed narrowly over the bar.
A mazy run soon after the goal ended with her cutting the ball back to Claire Shine but the captain could not control her shot.
Amber Barret, McCabe and Shine continued to keep the Italians on the back foot in an attacking display which saw Ireland carve out several chances.
Italy though never dropped their heads and when a sloppy pass was intercepted high up the pitch Arianna Montecucco was alive to the long ball and rounded the Irish defence to level the game.
A draw though was not enough for Italy and they pressed for the winner well into the closing minutes.
Montecucco could have secured all three points when she was given time to control a free kick in the box but goalkeeper Jill Maloney was alert and a superb reaction save sent the shot wide in the last meaningful play of the game.
The final whistle went soon after and the draw was enough to secure top place for Ireland in the group with seven points.
The draw for next year’s Elite stage will be made in Nyon, Switzerland next month.