Megan Campbell's stunning winner gave the Republic of Ireland an eyebrow-raising semi-final victory over Germany and she told UEFA.com how Noel King's upbeat approach paid dividends.
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The Republic of Ireland created a major upset by ending Germany's monopoly of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship title with a 1-0 victory in Tuesday's semi-final in Nyon.
Or was it such a huge surprise? Yes, Noel King's team were the first from their nation to play in a women's final tournament, while Germany had won both previous Women's U17 editions and enjoyed a run of 21 wins and one draw since the competition was launched. However, Ireland were not afraid and goalscorer Megan Campbell explained how her side's tactics ensured they would play Spain in Saturday's final.
"It's a great result for us and we deserved to win this game – the coach told us not to hold off, just like any other team does against Germany, and just go at them, give them a shock," Campbell told UEFA.com after her splendid long-range free-kick not only won the semi-final but also took Ireland into the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago from 5 to 25 September.
Ireland were full of running throughout the match, when many would have expected them to tire as a result of the immense effort put in to thwart the European champions. The pre-match routine had much to do with this. "We were the underdogs for this game," Campbell said. "We prepared with loads of rest and sleep to keep our legs fresh."
As for her set-piece goal of a lifetime, Campbell was almost lost in wonder about how she struck the ball so sweetly. The defender said: "There were only two minutes to go in the first half, so I looked at the clock and said, 'Why not have a go?'. I tried to take the chance and see what happened. I've never scored any goal like that before, and hopefully it won't be the last."
Campbell, who turns 17 next Monday, not only showed that she has a tremendous shot on her – her long throw-ins provide a truly potent weapon. "I don't really know how I got that," she reflects, "but we try to take advantage from it and use it as a set piece to [unsettle] defences."
The Irish team ethic shone through from start to finish. "We just played as we normally do, working hard as a team," said Campbell, part of the St Francis FC squad that will again compete in the UEFA Women's Champions League in August. "Hopefully we will play the same against Spain and get the right result to clinch the gold medal. First we will focus on the gold medal, and then we will think about the World Cup."