Ireland women bow out of Under-19 European Championships
Journey comes to an end at semi-finals at hands of experienced Netherlands
Ireland’s Savannah McCarthy (right) is consoled by Shannon Carson after losing to the Netherlands in the Uefa Women’s U19 Championship semi-final in Mjondalen, Norway. Photograph: Anders Hoven/Inpho
Republic of Ireland 0 Netherlands 4
The skies above the Mjøndalen stadium near Oslo rumbled late during last night’s Uefa Under-19 European Championship semi-final but thunder had visited the Republic of Ireland defence much earlier.
Dave Connell’s girls travel home to Dublin today having achieved much and won many admirers on their debut appearance at the showpiece in Norway.
After storming through the group phase as pool winners, however, their ambitions perished upon meeting a classy Netherlands side superior in quality and, most tellingly, experience.
Dutch senior international Vivianne Miedema, who claimed a hat-trick last night, was the main difference between the nations as she proved after just five minutes with the opener.
In his post-match reflections, Connell was eager to assess the four-game journey overall, rather than focus on this chastening experience for his young tyros.
“We’ve boxed well above our weight over the past week, beating three great nations to win the group and reach the semi-finals,” he admitted. “But she (Miedema) brings an awful lot to the Dutch team with her power and skill. When we played Holland in the qualifiers, she was with their senior team.”
Indeed, the recently-signed Bayern Munich played a part in all four goals and will present Spain with their biggest obstacle in Sunday’s final.
Miedema caught square for the crucial opener. Although goalkeeper Brooke Dunne blocked the striker’s initial shot with her feet, Miedema followed up to force the rebound over the line.
That early concession put the Irish in similar territory to the previous wins over England and Sweden and they gamely set about trying to rescue this tie.
Clare Shine, back in the starting team in place of the injured Katie McCabe, looked lively up front but it was deep-lying midfielder Lauren Dwyer who came closest to equalising with a 20 yard effort that veered wide following a burst past two defenders.
Still, with Miedema’s nous enabling her to find room between Ireland’s midfield and defence, there was always a second goal in the Dutch.
Gasps of relief were heard on 26 minutes as Dominique Janssen’s free kick speared a yard off-target but their accuracy returned for the second goal nine minutes later.
From a loose ball on the half-way line, André Koolhof’s side broke at pace with Miedema again to the fore. She spread the ball wide to the onrushing Jeslynn Kuijpers and the winger’s angled shot clipped the inside of Dunne’s near post before nestling into the far corner.
Although Ireland had withstood the intense humidity during the group stage tussles, it seemed to stifle them on this occasion.
Whatever prospect remained at the break of chasing a two-goal deficit, it soon vanished when Miedema widened the margin within three minutes of the restart.
Playmaker Jill Roord instigated the damage by slipping a pass behind left-back Grace Wright for Kuijpers to latch onto. Her neat cut-back from the end-line gave the standout player of the match the easiest of tap-ins.
Seven minutes later and the Bundesliga-based ace grabbed her hat-trick with another piece of brilliance. Her power and agility proved too much for a couple of defenders she sidestepped before drilling low home from eight yards. IRELAND: Dunne (Peamount Utd); Keenan (Shelbourne), McCarthy (Listowel Celtic), O’Connell (Wilton), Wright (Texas University); Mustaki (Peamount Utd); Dwyer (Wexford Yths), Connolly (College Corinthians); O’Connor (Wilton), Shine (Raheny Utd), Rowe (Castlebar Celtic). Subs: McCabe (Raheny Utd) for O’Connor (49 mins), Nolan (Peamount Utd) for Mustaki (60 mins), McLaughlin (Greencastle) for Dwyer, inj (66 mins). NETHERLANDS: Vreugdenhill; Akkerman, Janssen, Kerkdijk, Kuikstra; Mourmans, Roord, Kaagman; Kuijpers, Miedema, Strik. Subs: Peels for Kuikstra (75 mins), Bruinenberg for Mourmans (77 mins), Beerensteyn for Miedema (84 mins). Referee: Marija Kurtes (GER)