Letterkenny native Ciara Grant was on the mark as the Republic of Ireland Women’s U-19 team sealed their Uefa Championship first phase qualification by hammering Hungary 6-0 in Portugal on Thursday.
A 1-0 win over mini-group hosts Portugal and a 5-1 success over Israel had secured Ireland’s progression into the next phase as one of the two qualifiers from the group. To be sure of advancing as group winner, they needed just to avoid defeat but Dave Connell’s side produced an emphatic victory with Grant, who plays locally for Kilmacrennan Celtic, scoring the second of the six goals on 18 minutes.
The Irish, buoyed with a 100 per cent record in this series of qualifiers, now progress to the elite phase. Another four-nation group awaits them, from which the group winners, along with the best runner-up across to the pools, seal a place in the finals to be held in Antaya in Turkey during next July.
Meanwhile, Carl McHugh and Sean McDermott have been included in the Ireland U-19 squad for the upcoming Uefa Championship first phase qualifiers in Bulgaria. McHugh, from Lettermacaward, is currently on loan at Dundalk in the Airtricity League Premier Division from Championship side Reading, while McDermott, who is at Arsenal, is Norwegian born but qualifies for Ireland as his father Terence is a native of Mountcharles.
Ireland meet Bulgaria on Thursday at 3pm before meeting Bosnia Herzegovina on Saturday at 2pm. The group’s top seeds, Russia, will meet the Irish in the concluding fixture on Tuesday week at 3pm.
Ireland U-21 boss Noel King named Shane Duffy in his 16-man squad for the forthcoming Uefa U-21 Championships Group Eight qualifying round fixture against Liechtenstein on Tuesday, October 11. The Irish will play Liechtenstein in Eschen on Tuesday, October 11, in their third game in the qualifying series. They beat Hungary 2-1 in their opening game then were unfortunate 1-0 losers to Turkey next time out. Duffy, a Derry native whose father Brian is from Letterkenny, is on loan until Christmas at Scunthorpe in League One from Premier League Everton.
Also this week, on Tuesday, Peter Burke of Moville Celtic kept goal for the Ireland U-16 side in their 3-0 friendly win over Latvia in Estonia, while Amber Barrett from Milford was on target for the U-17 ladies in their 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in a friendly that was played in Newry.