Disappointment was tinged with pride for Republic of Ireland defender Jessica Gleeson after her side narrowly missed out on UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship glory in Nyon.
The 16-year-old Gleeson was a key part of the Irish defence that was not breached in 180 minutes of football in the final tournament. The Tramore FC player won telling tackles, made crucial interceptions and prevailed in countless aerial duels throughout the tournament as the Irish defence held the attacks of Germany and Spain; attacks that scored 52 goals between them in qualifying.
They beat Germany 1-0 in the semis, but lost 4-1 on penalties to Spain in the final after a goalless draw, and Gleeson told UEFA.com: "We knew coming into the Germany game that is was going to be hard and when we scored and managed not to concede we were really happy with that. And then getting through the Spain game, especially in that heat, and not conceding was brilliant."
One of two Ireland players denied in the penalty shoot-out by a stunning save from Dolores Gallardo, Gleeson revealed that her side's defensive strength was the result of hard work on the training ground. "We did a lot of defensive work this week and we focused on what Germany do and what Spain do when they attack so we kind of knew what to expect," she said. "As for Spain: we would not really be used to that more technical kind of play but again we got used to it during the game and adapted to it."
Ireland's European campaign, in which they won six and drew two of their eight matches, may be over but the team's adventure is not: Ireland have qualified for the FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in September. Gleeson added: "
We are all looking forward to Trinidad and Tobago. I can't wait, it should be very good. I just hope we can go further; get to the final and win a gold medal. "
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