Ireland under-19 women stun Spain
Clare Shine hits winner in opener of European Championship finals
Clare Shine, left, celebrates after scoring the Republic of Ireland’s first goal with team-mate Katie McCabe at the Uefa Women’s U19 Championship Finals in Norway. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Clare Shine’s 54th-minute winner at the UKI Arena secured Dave Connell’s side a fully merited victory in their first of three group matches on their debut appearance at the Under-19 showpeice.
The result means that another three points from Friday’s tie against England, beaten 2-0 by Sweden in Tuesday’s other Group B game, assures them progression into the semi-finals with Monday’s concluding match of the pool against the Swedes to spare.
Connell’s cubs will face England brimful of confidence having translated their dominance against the Spanish into one of the best results in the history of Irish women’s football.
“The girls deserve great credit for beating one of the giants in world football,” said the delighted Ireland manager afterwards. “We restricted Spain to long-range chances and could have won the game by more.
“After being the better team in the first half, it instilled a belief in the players that they could finish the job off in the second half.
They’ve been magnificent all season and I knew they were capable of matching any team. The manager of the Sweden side gave us some flak for our style, which I didn’t like, and I think we showed tonight how good the team can play.”
Sarah Rowe should have fired Ireland ahead after just 30 seconds but her shot was weak following a slide-rule pass from Shine that left her free inside the box.
Against the run of play, Spain might have struck first on 11 minutes when Sonia Fraile’s overhead kick rattled Brooke Dunne’s post.
However, with Shine and Katie McCabe causing the Spanish problems, it was only a matter of time before they underlined that supremacy.
The deserved breakthrough arrived when Marta Turmo’s poor attempted clearance fell at the feet of Shine ten yards out who buried a low shot past Sara Serrat in the Spanish goal.
Once ahead, Ireland rarely looked troubled. Indeed, McCabe had strong claims for a penalty rejected when tripped in the penalty box by Turmo.
“We’ve got the first part out of the way but now it’s about completing the job against England on Friday,” asserted a jubilant Connell.
REP OF IRELAND: Dunne; Wright, McCarthy, O’Connell, Mustaki; O’Connor, Dwyer, Connolly; McCabe, Shine (Carson 88), Rowe.
SPAIN - Serrat; Jimenez, Turmo, Murua, Garrote; Campo (Guijarro 59), Caldentey, Fraile; Redondo (Lopez 82), Garcia, Sanchez.
Referee: K Radik-Johan (Poland)