Shels magical McEvoy fires Irish 19s through

by Dave Donnelly
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Shelbourne’s Alannah McEvoy scored a hat-trick as the Republic of Ireland Under-19s qualified for the elite phase of European Championships qualifying with a game to spare in the Netherlands.

Victories over Ukraine and Montenegro were enough for Dave Connell’s side to advance to the final round despite losing 6-0 to the hosts in their final outing.

McEvoy netted a treble in the victory over Montenegro to seal qualification for the elite stage, the draw for which will be made later this year.

The striker’s final goal, which initially looked to have been scored directly from a free kick, was later given as an own goal. But the Bray native will claim it as her first international hat-trick.

Ireland were three goals to the good after just nine minutes thanks to the prolific McEvoy, who opened the scoring after just seven minutes.

Emily Whelan – one of seven Shelbourne players in the squad – aimed a brilliant cross to the arriving McEvoy to put Ireland a goal to the good.

She doubled her tally nine minutes later from the penalty spot, at the second attempt, following an incident that saw Montenegro’s Maja Miletic sent off.

And just three more minutes passed before the girls in green sealed the tie and passage to the elite round, McEvoy’s free deflecting off Jovana Miladinovic in the wall before hitting the net.

Ireland had gotten off to the best possible start with a 2-0 win over Ukraine in their opening fixture thanks to goals from Shels’ Jessica Ziu and Wexford Youths’ Aoife Slattery. The hosts the Netherlands proved too strong for Ireland in the final game in Gravenzande. Connell’s side, however, will be in the mix for the elite round regardless thanks to a strong showing.

“We started the game well and were delighted to get the two early goals, but it was a bit of a scrappy game overall,” said Connell.

“They had a player sent off with just 16 minutes gone and then put all 10 remaining players behind the ball. That’s always going to make it difficult to have a good game.

“But our aim was to qualify and we have done that now. I think we created 50 chances in the two games so far and while that is a positive, we need to work on finishing those chances now.

“I said before we came out that we were looking at three very different games, and that’s the way it has been.”

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