After a near miss in 2013, the Republic of Ireland made the breakthrough to the latter stages of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship this season when they become the 25th team to grace the final tournament.
Hopes were high after an impressive showing at La Manga in the spring, beating Sweden, but injuries to key players for the elite round were a big setback. Goalkeeper Jilian Maloney was chief among them, to a career-ending neck problem. In came Courtney Brosnan, 18, keeping three clean sheets as Ireland showed real defensive steel to add to the attacking muscle they flexed in the first qualifying round.
It meant two elite round goals were enough – both of them brilliant individual efforts from Clare Shine (v Austria), who broke her leg in April, and Sarah Rowe (v Turkey). "We kind of knew this year it could be the year we get over the final hurdle and the players believed we could do it," said manager Dave Connell, whose side advanced as best runners-up.
Route to the finals
First qualifying round: 7-0 Kazakhstan, 3-1 Greece, 2-2 Denmark (Group 2 runners-up)
Elite round: 1-0 Austria, 0-0 Netherlands, 1-0 Turkey (Group 5 runners-up)
Top scorer: Clare Shine (5)
Chloe Mustaki (defender, Peamount United), Lauren Dwyer (defender, Wexford Youths Women's AFC), Sarah Rowe (midfielder, Castlebar Celtic FC), Clare Shine (forward, Raheny United FC).
Coach: Dave Connell
Date of birth: 27/11/1961
Playing career: Bohemian FC, Dundalk FC, Shamrock Rovers FC, Ards FC, Drogheda United FC, Limerick FC
Coaching career: Limerick FC, Galway United FC, Republic of Ireland women's U19s
From the Dublin suburb of Cabra, Connell began his senior career with local club Bohemian, winning the FAI Cup and gracing the UEFA Cup before further spells with other top-flight clubs. He ended up at Limerick, where he became player-manager in June 1997; he remained there until February 1999.
After a four-month spell at the Galway helm in 2001, he took up a post with non-league Janesboro FC and began working as a regional coach for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). In January 2011 he took the reins of Ireland's women's U19 side, combining the role with that of the FAI's Women's emerging talent coordinator.
UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship record
Never previously qualified
Honours in other UEFA women's competitions
UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship
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