Two years on from the Republic of Ireland's run to the final, Harry Kenny looks back at their "fantastic" campaign as they begin another bid to reach the last four on Monday.
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Two years ago, the Republic of Ireland caused a sensation when they progressed past Germany to reach the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final. Although they then lost on penalties to Spain, their achievement was enough to earn a trip to the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
Last season they fell in the first qualifying round, but this time they have reached the second stage and from Monday will compete in Group 2 in Norway against France, Poland and the hosts for a place in the Nyon finals in June. Current head coach Harry Kenny was Noel King's assistant during the 2010 run and is keen to see a repeat run – but knows it will be tough.
UEFA.com: To what extent can you hope to emulate what you did in 2010?
Harry Kenny: That is certainly a big ask. The girls we had when we went to Trinidad in 2010 were an exceptional bunch. They were really, really good players, and we had high hopes for them as soon as we got them together. Hard to know, hard to know. This time around, we have a good bunch.
UEFA.com: When you remember your experiences, not only in Nyon but also in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, what stands out for you most?
Kenny: Ah, they were fantastic memories. I mean, when you think of the World Cup, what nation do you think of? You think of Brazil. Who was our first match against? Brazil! So that has to be a real stand-out. You go to a World Cup, and your first game is against Brazil. That just sends all the signals that, yes, we are here at a World Cup. That was fantastic. And you get to see lovely places. Tobago, fantastic. One of the games was in Tobago. We flew from Trinidad to Tobago, and thought that was fantastic. Coming here then for the semis and the finals, and knocking Germany out – that was just amazing for us, absolutely huge, great.
UEFA.com: Those are the types of experiences young players can only learn from.
Kenny: Yes, the experience of playing Germany and Spain was just fantastic. Of course Holland were in it, and we didn't get to play Holland, but Germany and Spain are the best two nations at this age group. And to beat Germany and get into the final, and ending up losing on a penalty shoot-out was just pie-in-the-sky stuff for us. It was fantastic, we really enjoyed it.
UEFA.com: Can you put into perspective how important it was for women's football in Ireland?
Kenny: Oh, great. I mean, when we were playing in Trinidad and Tobago, actually the pubs and stuff were beginning to fill up for girls' Under-17 football, and it was on Eurosport. Most people at home have Eurosport, so everyone was able to see it and see what we were doing. And there was a huge interest. I mean, everybody enjoyed it. We got a really great welcome when we came home from the World Cup: lots of TV, papers, all sorts of stuff when we came back into Dublin after the World Cup. So it was huge. It was nearly on the news every day of the week, in the papers every day of the week, so it absolutely boosted women's football in the country from all ends.
UEFA.com: How have you enjoyed making the step up to head coach?
Kenny: I love it. I think working with the girls is just fantastic. They are totally different to working with fellows. They're very detailed. They love to learn. They ask loads of questions. So working with girls is just great. I love organising people and organising staff, and going and having trials. And certainly working with the girls is just a joy.