REPUBLIC OF IRELAND enjoyed a strong test against their Northern Ireland scholars in the AUL Complex on February 17th in Berkeley’s first competitive fixture of the season.

A lively exchange in the first period saw both sides hit the woodwork in the early stages.

With just eight minutes registered, up pops Palmerstown Community School pupil Jessie STAPLETON to slot home a rebound from close range on her second attempt following a superbly struck free kick from Captain Della DOHERTY of Coláiste Iosagain, Portarlington that rocketed off the crossbar.

The hosts lead was short lived as Lucy Andrews cancelled out Stapleton on 16 minutes with a fantastic goal which landed in the far corner following a solid run down the left flank.

It was level pegging at the break which gave both Coaches time to ring in the changes. Ennis star Emma O’DONOGHUE was brought on for Oughterard’s Theresa KINNEVEY while Moville’s Kerry BROWN slotted in for St. Clare’s student Muireann DEVANEY.

While the North may have enjoyed much of the possession in the first half, it was Berkeley’s side that grew into the game with some delightful passages of play.

With only a quarter of an hour left in proceedings, the Republic made a trio of substitutions which saw goalkeeper Rugile ASKAINYTE make way for Leah HAYES COEN. This was accompanied by the introduction of the dynamic pairing of Erin McLAUGHLIN and Kate SLEVIN for the industrious Ellen MOLLOY and Anna FAHEY.

The Republic will travel to Stafford Town in less than a month’s time to face England in the annual John Read Cup. With this in mind, Berkeley made the final change to his crew as Della DOHERTY and Abbie CLARKE were withdrawn for Emer O’NEILL and Kate O’DOWD to impress three minutes later.

With the redeployment of players across the park, it was second half substitutes Kate O’DOWD (St. Nathy’s College) and Kate SLEVIN (Claregalway College) who combined for the match winner. SLEVIN was only on the park five minutes before she was left with plenty of time in the box to compose herself to dink past sub keeper McHenry.

The hosts delivered a confident display to see out the game and claim a nice win to kick start their Bob Docherty Cup endeavours.

Northern Ireland have yet to confirm their final selection ahead of the International tournament which they will host at the end of March. Ryan Mullen and his staff will have plenty to ponder given that all 18 players featured this afternoon and provided an excellent challenge.

For Berkeley and his 18 strong panel, it’s back to the training pitch. The squad will play Sharon Boyle’s U16s select in a closed session on March 3 while a week later, the students will hope to retain the John Read Cup when they make the trip across to the UK.  This will be the final outing before the Republic of Ireland head to Belfast for this season’s International meet.

Ambassador Leanne KIERNAN was on hand to select our Player of the Match for this game. Kiernan featured for Bailieborough Community School in her academic years and played for the Ulster Interprovincial select in 2013/14. Similarly to this crop of players Kiernan has come through the Schools International ranks to feature heavily for the Women’s International Senior team in recent months. 

Leanne was impressed with a few key players this afternoon but the accolade was deservedly awarded to Palmerstown stalwart Jessie STAPLETON for her sterling performance throughout the hour mark.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND | Rugile AskaInyte (St. Mary’s Holy Faith Convent, Glasnevin), Abbie Clarke (Muckross Park College, Donnybrook), Shauna Brennan (Claregalway College), Therese Kinnevey (St. Paul’s Secondary School, Ougherard), Jessie Stapleton (Palmerstown Community School), Aoibheann Clancy (Presentation Secondary School, Thurles), Aoife Horgan (St. Joseph’s Secondary School, Ballybunion), Della Doherty CAPTAIN (Coláiste Iosagain, Portarlington),

Anna Fahey (St. Paul’s Secondary School, Ougherard), Muireann Devaney (St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton), Ellen Molloy (Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny)

 SUBS USED | Kerry Brown (Moville Community College) for Devaney (HT), Emma O’Donoghue (Coláiste Muire, Ennis) for Kinnevey (HT), Leah Hayes Coen (Scoil Mhuire agus Íde, Newcastle West) for Askalnyte (45), Erin McLaughlin (Carndonagh Community School) for Molloy (45), Kate Slevin (Claregalway College) for Fahey (45), Kate O’Dowd (St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen) for Clarke (48), Emer O’Neill (St. Louis Community School, Kiltimagh) for Doherty (48)

MANAGEMENT | Head Coach Richard Berkeley (Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh) Coach Karen Byrne (St. Ultan’s, Navan) GK Coach Dave Rooney, Performance Analyst Emma Mullin (IT Sligo),  Kit Person Karen Henry (Mulroy College, Milford), Physio Aoife Burke.

NORTHERN IRELAND | Jenna Corry, Amie Hill, Leah McCauley, Shona Davis, Erin McGreevy, Fi Morgan, Teegan Lynch (Captain), Cora Chambers, Cora Morgan, Lucy Andrews, Rosie Zubier

SUBS USED | Anna Wilson for McGreevy (HT), Cara Mervyn for Zubier (HT), Abbie McHenry for Corry (45), Rosie Thompson for McCauley (45), Katie Dickson for Andrews (45),  Leah Heaney for Morgan (45), Kathern McConnell for Davis (45).

MANAGEMENT | Ryan Mullen (Head Coach), Michael Cooke (Assistant Coach), Martin Holland (Physio)

U15 Girls’ International Schedule

Training Camp

U15 Schools v U16 FAI (closed session)

Early March

John Read Cup | U15 Girls’ International Friendly

England vs Republic of Ireland

Strafford Town FC

Saturday, March 10, KO 3pm

Bob Docherty Cup | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Saturday, March 24, to Monday, March 26

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