Irish U-18s impress in Scotland with clean sweep

Ireland’s Under-18 girls won all three of their games against Scotland last weekend as part of an impressive weekend’s work in Glasgow while the Under-16 girls also had three ties against the Scots.

The first game started off fast with Ireland taking the initiative early on. After the first quarter, it was still 0-0 but it was clear Ireland had most of the possession. Mid-way through the second quarter, Niamh Carey and her silky skills slipped through the Scottish defence and scored a cracker of a reverse between the goalkeeper’s legs, Ireland were in the lead.

After half-time, it was still 1-0 to Ireland. From a quick turnover, Michelle Carey stole the ball and raced up the pitch bypassing the whole Scottish team and pumped it into top corner of the goal.

The team powered through the final quarter due to their mental toughness and fitness resulting in a much deserved corner after Katie McKee’s 3D skills. Caoimhe Perdue got her first goal from the breakdown using some Tipp camogie skills. The player of the match was awarded to Issy Delamer for her calm disposition and hard work.

In game two, Scotland got an early goal from some neat passing. Ireland knew they had to step it up. Within two minutes, Ireland were back in the game after a well executed corner with a smooth sweep across the goal from Grace McLoughlin to Katie McKee on the back post.

Still determined to get ahead, Ireland attacked ferociously with Siofra O’Brien weaving through the Scottish defenders and connected perfectly on her reverse sending it bottom right corner.

Both teams battled hard throughout the third quarter with little between them. With two minutes to go, Scotland got a well deserved corner. The whole sideline was tense. Superb defending in the circle allowed for a speedy counter-attack.

McKee received the ball on the left wing and gave an inch perfect reverse down the line to Sophie McDowell. McDowell played out the 2-V-1 perfectly with Katie Fearon, who sprinted the length of the pitch to be on the back post.

With six seconds to go all the pressure was on Katie Fearon. Her cool, calm and collected mindset allowed Katie Fearon to effortlessly push the ball into bottom left corner giving Ireland a 3-1 victory. Player of the match was awarded to Caoimhe Perdue for not only scoring a necessary goal but her constant ball pace and connecting passes.

The weather took a turn for the worse just in time for game three.The ball pace was slower than the girls anticipated due to the water-logged pitch.

Despite the unwanted weather conditions Ireland proved they were up to the tempo. Ireland dug deep with Siofra O’Brien winning the ball in the Scottish defensive half and played it forward to Nina Heisterkamp.

Using her nifty skills, Heisterkamp danced through the Scottish defenders and pushed the ball through the keeper’s legs. Once again Ireland were in the lead.

Ireland took advantage of their lead and Sarah Torrans scored again from a broken down corner. Scotland were clearly wounded from letting yet another Irish goal slip through their legs and responded in the third quarter with speed.

With fatigue growing by the second, Ireland knew they had to finish strong. Secure passes and relentless defensive work ensured the win that Ireland deserved. The man of the match was awarded to Katie Fearon for her work effort throughout the game.

At Under-16 level, Scotland shaded the first tie 2-1. The first quarter was a fast paced, physical game with both sides evenly matched. Then with 29 seconds to go the Scottish concentration slipped and Ireland took advantage to go into the break 1-0 up through Gaby Lewis.

Three minutes into the second half and Scotland were awarded a free hit. Captain Ruth Blaike did some great work and got the ball over to Lucy Williamson who stayed composed and placed the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal to equalise.

A further evenly matched period of play ensued and then after five minutes of the quarter Scotland were awarded a free hit just at the 23, which was quickly taken and Ellie Mackenzie was perfectly positioned to slot the ball into the goal.

The Irish Under-16s in action against Scotland. Pic: Marc Pugh

Ireland remained extremely strong and the Scots were pressurised into giving away a corner with only eight seconds left on the clock. Ireland were unable to capitalise and it was with relief that the Scots welcomed the final hooter.

Game two was a nail-biting 0-0 draw, keeping Ireland in the mix to potentially grab a shared series but it was the Scots who prevailed 2-0 overall with Lucy Smith grabbing an early goal.

Zara Mason scored a second for the Scots before Ireland piled on the pressure, twice seeing chances cleared off the line but they could not break through the Scottish defences.

Under-18 girls
Friday: Ireland 3 (N Carey, M Carey, C Perdue) Scotland 0
Saturday: Ireland 3 (K McKee, S O’Brien, K Fearon) Scotland 1
Sunday: Ireland 2 (N Heisterkamp, S Torrans) Scotland 1

Under-16 girls
Friday: Ireland 1 (G Lewis) Scotland 2
Saturday: Ireland 0 Scotland 0
Sunday: Ireland 0 Scotland 2

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