AOIFE Kelly and the Irish team made winning start to Round 2 of their UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship qualifiers with a 3-0 victory over Kosovo on Thursday. Kelly has made an excellent start to the National League season with Shamrock Rovers and took that form into the opening game of the qualification series.
Three first-half goals from Fiana Bradley, Joy Ralph and Jess Fitzgerald ensure that the Girls in Green picked up three points in Tarnos, France. The result puts Ireland top of Group A5 as their clean sheet bettered France’s 3-1 triumph over Italy, who James Scott’s team play next on Sunday. Ireland got off to an electric start with Cork City ace Bradley supplying a headed finish on eight minutes after the team’s attacking play was rewarded. DLR Waves forward Ralph did what she does best and finished when the ball came to her on 25 minutes before Peamount United midfielder Fitzgerald netted just two minutes later. In control of the game, Scott was able to make three changes at the interval and Ireland did not lose their momentum as they registered 11 attempts on goal, took 11 corners and dominated possession of the ball. This was an encouraging start for Ireland as they eye qualification through to the finals tournament in Estonia. But they know that two tough games are up next against Italy and France. Republic of Ireland: Katie Keane (Niamh Richardson 46); Aoife Turner, Aoibhe Fleming, Aoife Kelly, Kiera Sena (Heidi Mackin 60); Jess Fitzgerald, Ellen Dolan (Hannah Healy 46); Freya Healy; Fiana Bradley (Rebecca Devereux 71), Joy Ralph, Jodie Loughrey (Millie Daly 46). Kosovo: Rajmonda Spahiu; Agnesa Allu (Almira Mehmeti 46), Mirjeta Januzi, Rita Feka, Aurora Mulliqi, Elona Paci (Albina Gegai 58), Ema Kerqota (Shenarta Bela 46, Flakresa Gerbeshi 71), Sahare Berisha (Liza Hoxha 46), Alba Shabani, Ariola Morina, Besjana Zogaj. Referee: Teresa Oliveira (Portugal). 2023 UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship – Round 2 Qualifiers March 23 | Republic of Ireland 3-0 Kosovo March 26 | Republic of Ireland v Italy, Tarnos, France, KO 12:00 March 29 | France v Republic of Ireland, Tarnos, France, KO 14:00