Ireland celebrate Heather Payne’s goal against Hungary. Picture: Nebojsa Parausic/ MN press

PEAMOUNT United’s Heather Payne provided the moment of inspiration for the Republic of Ireland Under-17 side as they ended their three Elite Round games unbeaten with seven points and top of Group 4 – having previously beaten hosts Serbia and drawn with Scotland.
A single goal from Heather Payne on 13 minutes proved to be enough for Ireland to claim the win over Hungary that they needed. They were the more dominant of the two sides and that was a common trend throughout their qualifying campaign.
But sometimes it takes a moment of magic to deliver a desired result and that is exactly what happened when Peamount ace used her wand of a foot to fire in a free-kick from distance. There was no looking back after that.
“It is a fantastic achievement,” beamed Bell after the win. “The girls worked so hard and the dedication that they gave to these qualifiers is testament to their attitude and also their quality.
“To qualify as group winners makes it even more enjoyable. We had to work hard to get the win because Hungary gave us a good game and I have to give credit to them because they are a very good side.
“We have had so many players step up in this qualifying campaign, but I can’t praise our captain, Tiegan Ruddy, enough and also Sadhbh Doyle and Heather Payne. Those three girls guided the younger girls through and they were a big help to me.
“The new senior women’s head coach, Colin Bell, was here watching the girls and I think he was impressed with their play. Now, I’m hoping that they can go to the tournament and show Europe what they can do.
“I believe this is a special group of players and they fully deserve to have made it through to the finals tournament.”
Including their qualifying round games, this Ireland team played six times, won five, drew one, scored 14 goals, conceded one, and twice topped their group.
The draw for finals tournament will take place on April 7, while the main event will be staged in Czech Republic from May 2-14.
Payne was among a large Peamount contingent in the squad with Chloe Singleton, Aisling Spillane, Gillian Keenan, Doireann Fahy and Carla McManus all included.
Elsewhere, Colin Bell has named Lexilip’s Emma Byrne and former St Francis player Megan Campbell in his senior women’s panel for the upcoming international friendly against Slovakia.
The game will take place on Monday, April 10 with kick-off at 2pm at Tallaght Stadium as Bell looks to build on their impressive Cyprus Cup campaign.

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