Nicola Gray’s corner smash and Vanessa Surgeoner’s deliciously timed second half strike handed Ireland the win their dominance deserved against Wales at Garryduff this evening for whom goalkeeper Roseanne Thomas was outstanding.
Gray battered home a trademark corner from the girls in green’s first set piece in the fifth minute but from then on Thomas kept out numerous of her straight hits – five of six were on target – as well as a Rebecca Barry drag-flick to keep Ireland at bay.
Captain Deirdre Duke (pictured) was also denied from play when she was unable to convert a difficult bouncing ball when well-placed while Dora Gorman pulled the strings to great effect and Gray performed admirably in the back four, inside the tidy Aisling Naughton.
Second half sin-binnings to Surgeoner and Leah Ewart scarcely opened the door for the Welsh and the former responded brilliantly to some ribbing from the stands in the wake of her yellow card.
On her return, Gorman intercepted in midfield and played in the Ulster player who dinked a delightful strike over the goalkeeper to silence the dissenters.
It came in the 64th minute, two minutes after Lucy Thayer had brilliantly nicked the ball off Ewart’s stick after Emily Beatty raced down the right flank. Ireland face tournament leaders England on Sunday.
It is the English team’s final tie, beating Wales on Friday night 2-1 and following up with a 2-1 success over Scotland today with Josie Inverdale – daughter of BBC presenter John – on the mark.
U-18 Girl’s Home Nations standings (played-points, goal diff) 1. England 2-6pts (+2) 2. Ireland 1-3pts (+2) 3. Scotland 1-0pts (-1) 4. Wales 2-0pts (-3)