Megan Connolly scored twice as the Republic of Ireland U17 Women got their UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign off to a winning start against Belarus today (Monday, 1st October).
Dave Connell’s side defeated their Group 9 hosts 3-0 at the Gorodskoi Stadium in Molodechno near Minsk with Amy O’Connor adding the third in injury-time.
Before the game, Connell had been fearful about facing the hosts in the opening game and so it proved as the Belarussians were a hard team to break down despite Ireland having the bulk of the possession.
Ciara Rossiter spurned an early chance in the 13th minute but Connolly made no mistake in the 27th minute when the College Corinthians striker pounced to net her fourth goals in three internationals.
Ireland had plenty of chances after that to extend their lead with Savannah McCarthy, Ciara McNamara and Connolly all going close prior to half-time and after the break Ireland continued to dominate and create chances. Midfielder Lisa Casserly forced a good save from Kamlyuk on 49 minutes and McCarthy, O’Connor and Connolly all had chances before the Cork girl was set up by O’Connor for her second in the 72nd minute.
Substitute Amber Barrett, Connolly and Casserly all had chances after that while at the other end substitute goalkeeper Amy Corcoran made a excellent save from Buyko before O’Connor, who plays for Wilton United, grabbed her goal three minutes into injury time.
Ireland’s next game will be on Wednesday against Georgia who were hammered 11-0 by Finland in the group’s other game today.
Republic of Ireland: Chelsea Noonan (Douglas Hall); Ciara McNamara (St Mary’s Cork), Lauren Dwyer Wexford Ladies), Payton Goulding (Minnesota Thunder), Savannah McCarthy (C) (Listowel Celtic); Aisling Frawley (Tramore FC), Ciara Rossiter Wexford Ladies), Rebekah Carroll (Peamount United), Lisa Casserly (Castlebar Celtic), Amy O’Connor Wilton United); Megan Connolly (College Corinthians). Substitutes: Amber Barrett (Lagan Harps) for Frawley (78), Avril Brierley (St Joseph’s) for Rossiter (78), Amy Corcoran (Peamount United) for Noonan (80). Unused Substitutes: Keeva Keenan (WFTA), Megan Kelleher (Kilmallock), Sara McGeough (Castlebar Celtic), Megan Lynch (Shelbourne).
Belarus: Kamlyuk, Marinina (C), Novik, Gagakhova, Verholaytseva (Shuppo 51), Mazur, Vasilyeva, Korzhova (Shurikovskaya 78), Kushner (Buyko 64), Duben, Sergeychik. Subs: Savitskaya(GK), Sadkovskaya, Lynko, Zenyuk.
Referee: Cristina Bujor (Romania).
UEFA European Women’s U17 Championship
Qualifying Round Group 9
October 1: Republic of Ireland 3 Belarus 0, Finland 11 Georgia 0
P W D L F A PTS GD
Finland 1 1 0 0 11 0 3 +11
Rep of Ireland 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 +3
Belarus 1 0 0 1 0 3 0 -3
Georgia 1 0 0 1 0 11 0 -11
October 3: Republic of Ireland v Georgia, Belarus v Finland
October 6: Finland v Republic of Ireland, Georgia v Belarus
(All games kick-off at 1pm Irish time).