The Republic of Ireland Under-17 Girls represented the county with pride last week at the UEFA Championship Finals in Nyon, finishing runner-up to champions Spain following a penalty shoot-out.
Having beaten Germany in the semi-final, Noel King’s Ireland side went into last Sunday’s showdown against the Spaniards full of confidence and had their chances to nick it during the scoreless draw.
Spain prevailed 4-1 on penalties but far from being despondent, one of the Ireland players who saw her spot-kick saved, Jessica Gleeson, was upbeat about the future.
Ireland’s reward for finishing amongst the top three in Europe is qualification for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup this September.
“We are all looking forward to Trinidad and Tobago,” Jessica told uefa.com about the finals in the autumn.
“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.”
Ireland enjoyed a spectacular campaign, winning six and drawing the other two of their eight competitive matches. And the Tramore AFC defender – whose clubmate Ciara O’Brien was also part of the Irish back four – admitted the experience of playing against established nations like Germany and Spain at the finals was invaluable.
She added: “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.”
“We did a lot of defensive work (last) week and we focused on what Germany do and what Spain do when they attack so we kind of knew what to expect.
“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.”