Release Date: 28/08/2012
Author: By Roy Cathcart
Northern Ireland’s Under-19 Women had an impressive 3 – 1 victory over the Czech Republic in the SK Artima Stadium in Prague.
The match was the first of two friendlies in preparation for Northern Ireland’s upcoming European Championship Group stage in Hungary in October, and NI Women’s Coach Alfie Wylie was delighted with both the result and the performance. “The girls showed great character and self-belief to come back from a goal down against a team that had beaten them two years ago at the same venue; indeed the Czech team had most of the players who reached the European Under Seventeen Final in 2010,” said Wylie.
The Czechs got off to a good start with an early period of pressure bringing a goal after a goalmouth scramble in the tenth minute. The rest of the half belonged to Northern Ireland, as their front three of Caragh Milligan, Simone Magill and Kirsty McGuinness, all experienced full internationals, ran the Czech defence ragged. McGuinness equalised eight minutes after the Czech goal, following an intricate passing move involving Magill and Milligan. Magill raced through to hit the second in the twenty-eighth minute, and Milligan capped a great performance with a fine individual run and Northern Ireland’s third goal five minutes later. Indeed Northern Ireland had no fewer than eleven strikes on goal in the first half, as the front line found acres of space on the huge Aritma pitch. Hayley O’Donnell, Laura Nicholas and Alex Hurst all tested the excellent Czech goalkeeper, as Northern Ireland dominated the game.
The Czechs made a number of defensive changes for the second half and gave a better account of themselves. Northern Ireland, fielding no fewer than four debutantes at this level, maintained a high work-rate in the heat, and controlled the midfield with the result that goalkeeper Rebecca Galbraith was able to deal confidently with the occasional Czech attacks. There were no further goals in the second half, and Wylie expressed his satisfaction with his team’s shape and discipline, and their ability to manage the game and see out a fine victory. “Performances like todays will give the girls a lot of confidence and certainly reflects the progress which women’s football is making at all levels.”
TEAM: Rebecca Galbraith, Alex Hurst, Rebecca Holloway, Laura Nicholas, Jennifer McDade, Alana McShane, Caragh Milligan (sub: Lauren Brennan), Hayley O’Donnell (sub: Rebecca McMullan), Simone Magill, Jessica Foy, Kirsty McGuinness (sub: Nicole Graham). Unused subs: Shona Wright, Megan McQuillan, Ellie Butterwick, Claire Shaw.
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