Local stars up for challenge

by Dave O'Connor
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THERE was local talent aplenty on show as the Under-15 Republic of Ireland Schools’ select team took on the Under-16 Metropolitan Girls League squad in Abbotstown last Saturday.
For the MGL squad, Peamount United quartet Niamh Coombes, Leah Doyle, Keelin McEntee and Jen Cosgrave were all present, while the schools’ side contained local students Aisling Spillane from the King’s Hospital and Louise Masterson from Holy Family CS, Rathcoole.
The Irish side eventually came out on top but the Metro girls proved a tough test for Lorraine Counihan’s debutants.
This was the first competitive outing for the schools select following a series of trials held since the FAI Schools girls’ interprovincial tournament in November.
It was a tight enough start at the FAI HQ, with the MGL side probably just shading the opening proceedings against a Schools’ showing the signs of a side not yet fully used to playing together.
Cabinteely’s Michaela Fox Walsh opened the scoring for the league side after five minutes, reacting sharply to a mix-up in the Irish defence. The mistake led to an open goal and Walsh easily tucked away the first of the game.
Despite falling behind, the Irish side became more composed as time went on and were level after 25 minutes. Dominican College pupil Lilly Hengerer managed to impressively squeeze an effort through a packed box to bring the sides level at the break.
The second half started with a good tempo to it and, by now, the Irish side were looking dangerous with each attack.
On 40 minutes, they went ahead when Taylor’s Hill star Aoife Lynagh finished a neat bit of play to send Counihan’s side ahead for the first time.
Counihan was pleased with her side’s performance afterwards and praised the 20 players that were trialled on the day.
Up next for the schools’ side is a friendly against Northern Ireland later on this month.
Following that, the squad will be reduced to 18 before travelling to England in March for a friendly.
Those two friendly fixtures will provide good preparation for the squad who will travel to Wales to take part in the annual Bob Docherty International tournament.
The four-day tournament will see the Republic of Ireland take on Wales and Northern Ireland in group one.
The winners of the group will then go on to face England, Wales’ second-side or Scotland in the play-offs.

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