Pratt and Burns combo crowns great win over Belarus

Yasmin Pratt’s glorious combination with Alex Burns saw Ireland’s Under-18 girls crown an excellent 3-1 victory over Belarus to get off the mark and raise hopes of a semi-final spot at the Euros in Santander.

It finally put the game to bed after the little green army bossed the tie for long periods but could never quite shake off the eastern European side until that moment of inspiration.

The defensive platform whipped the ball around the back before Burns pulled inside the Belarussian pressing attacker to gain some space. She got her head up and saw Pratt’s out-to-in run and managed to bisect both midfield and defensive lines.

The Kilkenny College student took the ball in her stride and rounded the keeper before deftly flicking home on her backhand for a memorable goal. It completed a comeback from a second minute deficit when Dziyana Batsiukova latched onto the ball from a narrow angle and fired home first time.

Ireland levelled before the end of the first quarter when a strong attack down the right led to Nadia Benallal cleaning up breaking ball and slotting home. Soon after the first break, Siofra O’Brien fired a reverse onto the post before Hannah Kelly put Ireland in front with a smart finish just eight seconds before half-time.

For much of the second half, the girls in green won a series of corners but found Belarus tough to break down until the inspired moment in the closing minutes.

With England losing 3-1 to Germany, it means a draw or better against the English on Wednesday would mean a place in the semi-finals of the competition.

On the boys’ Under-18 side, emotions were very different as they led twice against France but eventually succumbed to a 3-2 loss in their second group game.

Ewan Ramsay scored the first early in the second quarter, finishing off a pitch length move as he burst past his man to get to the ball and scored with a second touch. Timothee Clement equalised from a corner a minute later.

Oliver Kidd put Ireland back in front when Ramsay again wriggled free down the left and got a shot off. It was saved but Luke Adams followed up and laid on for a simple tip-in.

From there, though, things started to go wrong with Paul Piot levelling matters in the 44th minute when he swept in a baseline pull-back. Clement nailed another corner with eight minutes to go and give France the momentum in the group.

It means Ireland are out of the running for a semi-final spot and so will hope for a positive result against Belgium – who drew 3-3 with the Netherlands – before facing into the relegation pool.

At Under-16 level in Cork, there was one game on the agenda from an Irish perspective with England running out 4-0 winners against the home girls. Beth Alexander got the only goal of the first half from a second minute corner.

She added another couple in the third quarter before Caitlyn Polley closed out the result.

Tuesday sees the Under-16 boys return to action for their second game, facing England at 4pm at the Mardyke. The Under-23 women play Canada in their second match of the Six Nations in Antwerp with the other four sides all on a day off from competitive action.

Women’s Under-23 Six Nations (Antwerp)
Saturday, July 14: Ireland 1 (E Nyland) India 4
Sunday, July 15: Ireland 0 Netherlands 5
Tuesday, July 17: Ireland v Canada, 12pm
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Great Britain, 12pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 1.30pm
Saturday, July 21: Crossovers

Men’s Under-23 Five Nations (Antwerp):
Saturday, July 14: Ireland 0 India 5
Sunday, July 15: Ireland 1 (D Rae) Netherlands 3
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Great Britain, 1.30pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 6pm
Saturday, July 21: Crossovers

Girls European Under-18 Championship (Santander):
Sunday, July 15: Ireland 1 (S O’Brien) Germany 2 (S Kurz 2)
Monday, July 16: Ireland 3 (N Benallal, H Kelly, Y Pratt) Belarus 1 (D Batsiukova)
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v England, 2.45pm
July 20/21: classification matches

Boys European Under-18 Championship (Santander):
July 15: Ireland 0 Netherlands 6
July 16: Ireland 2 (E Ramsay, O Kidd) France 3 (T Clement 2, P Piot)
July 18: Ireland v Belgium, 12pm
July 20/21: classification matches

Hannah Kelly celebrates her goal. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Boys Under-16s Six Nations (The Mardyke, Cork)
Sunday, July 15: Ireland 2 (C Mackay, E Jennings) Netherlands 5
Tuesday, July 17: Ireland v England, 4pm
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Spain, 3pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 2pm
Saturday, July 21: Ireland v Germany, 5pm

Girls Under-16 Six Nations (The Mardyke, Cork)
Sunday, July 15: Ireland 0 Netherlands 3
Monday, July 16: Ireland 0 England 4
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Spain, 1pm
Thursday, July 19: Ireland v Belgium, 4pm
Saturday, July 21: Ireland v Germany, 3pm

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