McLoughlin strokes Ireland to opening win over England

U-18 girls: Ireland 2 (S O’Brien, G McLoughlin) England 1 (F Bull)
Always a high tempo affair, Ireland vs. England u18s started with Ireland on top, a trend which remained consistent throughout the game. Ireland weren’t here to make up the numbers and they let England know that early doors with Katie Fearon’s aggressive pressing and ball pace in midfield.

The English defence and midfield remained strong in their defensive half but Ireland’s nippy forwards found success through gaps. With the first quarter over neither team had conceded.

Ireland were relentless on both the right and left-hand channels with Michelle Carey and Sarah Torrans earning clinical circle entries. It was Siofra O’Brien however who coolly finished a baseline run with a cheeky dink over the helpless keeper after sending her for a hot dog (onions and mustard included).

In the third quarter, the English – coached by former Irish international Sarah Kelleher – came out fighting, challenging the Irish defence. Their pressure paid off earning them a penalty corner which they converted clinically through Freya Bull.

But Ireland had not come to lose this game. #HERETODISRUPT Between Niamh Carey and Yasmin Pratt, Ireland turned the ball over high up the pitch and raced into the circle only to be chopped down earning a penalty stroke.

Grace McLoughlin’s mindset was cool, calm and collected, something she learnt from Katie Fearon. She rifled it home low to the keeper’s left and Ireland were once again in the lead.

The fourth quarter loomed over both teams with Ireland playing more of a defensive role to maintain the 2-1 lead. Tina Hamill’s unyielding work effort and Sophie Thomas’s calmness personified Ireland’s superior conditioning and confirmed Ireland’s first win of the tournament.

Grace McLoughlin was presented with the Man of the Match award following an excellent first performance alongside Issy Delamer to kick start their campaign. Shout-out to KiKi.

** Written by Katie Fearon and Grace McLoughlin (selective editing by Stephen Brownlow).

Tuesday: Ireland v Belgium, 11am

U-18 Boys: Ireland 1 (P Lynch) Spain 4
Ireland started their tournament in good style and took the through Peter Lynch in the sixth minute with a superb counter attack goal in Nottingham. The game was even throughout the next two quarters with Spain leading the corner count.

Spain got back level and punished Ireland during the last quarter when three yellow cards were shown, reducing the greens to nine players for a nine minute period. During that time, the Spanish scored two corners and a good finish from close in to take the game away from Ireland.

Tuesday: Ireland v Netherlands, 11.30am

U-16 Girls: Ireland 0 England 0
Ireland started off their campaign with a highly competitive scoreless draw with England in CD Terrassa. As the game grew, Ireland held their own for large periods and were very composed.

England had more chances but couldn’t break through a determined and resilient Irish defence with goalkeeper Ellie McLoughlin pulling off a couple of fine saves in a superb Irish performance. Indeed, there were chances on the counter-attack with English tested at times, too.

Coach Ali McNeill said afterwards: “I’m very happy with the performance and the strides the squad have made; I’m delighted with the first point of the competition.”

Wednesday: Ireland v Belgium, 11am

U-16 Boys: Ireland 0 Spain 5
Spain proved too strong for the Irish Under-16 boys, building a 3-0 lead early in the third quarter before adding another couple of goals in the closing seven minutes.
Tuesday: Ireland v Netherlands, 4pm

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