Junior Green Army comeback to win Scotland series

Ireland’s Under-21 women produced wins on Saturday and Sunday to see off Scotland at Queen’s, using 30 players across three games as they continue their Euro preparations.

The Scots got off to a roaring start with a fast break down the line and a crash ball into the penalty spot. This prompted a fantastic finish from Lorna Cruickshank to give the visitors a flying start.

In reply, a strong attack, stemming from the back four created a superb chance for Sally Campbell whose shot was denied by Susan Al-Haddad. Suzie Kelly and Hannah McLoughlin put in some key tackles while Edel Nyland won the side’s first corner and Tori Hastings had a shot blocked.

Scotland doubled their advantage when Chloe Hardie passed to Lexi Sabatelli at the top of the circle who guided a fantastic reverse strike into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.

The second half got off to a promising start for Ireland as an aerial from McLoughlin found Nyland on the baseline and she netted to bring the game back into the mix. They did create further chances but Scotland stayed 2-1 ahead for the laurels from the first game.

In game two, Ireland came back from 2-0 down to score a 5-2 win over Scotland and put the series right back into the mix.

Scotland started the stronger and Ireland struggled to cope with their aggressive press. Millie Steiger broke the deadlock, making space for herself at the top of the circle and a quick forehand shot found its way into the bottom corner.

Lorna Cruikshank then pinched the ball from an Irish centre back and crashed the ball into the roof of the net for the second goal, and a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ruth Maguire on the attack. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Ireland improved in the second quarter, holding the majority of possession and creating all the chances with Nyland and Rachel Burns combining brilliantly for a first major chance while a Scottish defender cleared another Burns shot off the line.

Ellen Curran’s crash ball yielded a corner that went unconverted while another chance came when Nyland fired just wide from Emma Kernohan’s pass.

Scottish keeper Megan Inch denied Abbie Russell’s powerful shot before McLoughlin got one back from a penalty corner breakdown, making it 2-1 to the Scots at half-time.

They carried that momentum into the second half when Nyland drove around the last defender before drawing another save. Ireland drew level when Erin Getty and Jessica McMaster linked up to play in Russell whose forehand shot found the bottom corner.

It left the game poised at 2-2 going into the final quarter when Ireland took full control. McMaster put them in front from a corner, rebounding off McLoughlin’s initial shot.

Hannah McLoughlin celebrates a goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Queen’s striker added another when she drove through the heart of the Scottish defence before slotting home for 4-2. Tori Hastings then played in Michelle Carey on the p-spot and she slipped her shot over the line.

Game three saw Ireland win out 2-0. They controlled much of a scoreless first half. Michelle Barry gave them the lead early in the second half. McLoughlin closed out the win with her second goal in as many days, finishing off after a nice exchange with Carey.

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