The Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19s team’s UEFA Championship dreams ended in bitter disappointment today after losing their final group game to title holders Sweden in the Netherlands.
Ireland entered the game as table leaders after beating Italy and hosts Netherlands, and needed just a draw to secure qualification for the finals this summer.
However, despite starting the game well and dominating play in the first half, a second half goal resulting from a fumble between Ireland’s two centre halves and goalkeeper Jillian Maloney turned the game around.
A rejuvenated Swedish side then began to regain confidence, and added insult to Irish injury with another goal by Pauline Hammarlund in the 84th minute, crushing Irish dreams of qualification.
Ireland created many chances, with captain Denise O’Sullivan at the helm of most goal attempts, but were unlucky not to change the scoreboard in Sportpark Tanthof-Zuid this afternoon.
Ireland were rocked by two injuries from their more experienced players Rianna Jarrett, Clare Shine before the game, and ultimately paid the price as a result.
Sarah Rowe was also sidelined after coming down with a virus, however made a brief appearance for the girls in green in the second half, before being substituted by Kelly Halligan in the 89th minute.
Head coach Dave Connell spoke of the result: "We are hugely disappointed with today’s result, but it wasn’t to be for us unfortunately.
"We can all be extremely proud of ourselves however, and beating two big football nations in the group is a great achievement. All we can do now is build from this and move on.
"We’ll still have 12 of this year’s squad eligible next year, so the future is bright. The girls can hold their heads high."
There is one qualifying place left for the highest ranked second place team with the best record against the sides first and third in their pool.
However, it is unlikely that Ireland will qualify.