Young guns reserved for U19s as Colin Bell calls on experience to face Slovakia

The Ireland WNT look to build on their impressive start under new management at Tallaght Stadium next month.

Colin Bell was named manager in February.
Colin Bell was named manager in February.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

NEW MANAGER COLIN Bell has announced his Ireland squad ahead of next month’s home friendly against Slovakia, as the side look to build on their impressive Cyprus Cup campaign.

Starting a new era under Bell, the Women’s National Team (WNT) secured fourth spot in the tournament, their highest-ever finish. They were unbeaten in their first three games — the wins came over Czech Republic and Wales, while they drew with Hungary — before losing to North Korea in the 3/4 place play-off.

In this, a non-competitive period as they missed out on Euro 2017 qualification, Ireland will be looking to build confidence against Slovakia at Tallaght Stadium, and then Iceland and Scotland during the summer, before efforts to qualify for the 2019 World Cup begin in Septmeber.

Bell has named a 22-woman squad, with high-profile names like Stephanie Roche, Arsenal’s Katie McCabe and America-based Denise O’Sullivan included.

ireland Ireland at the Cyprus Cup. Source: FAI Twitter

A number of younger players — Leanne Kiernan, Roma McLaughlin and Amanda McQuillan — have been ruled out as they’re set to feature for the Women’s U19s side in the UEFA Elite Round phase.

Glasgow City defender Keeva Keenan has been called into the senior squad for the first time, while Shelbourne stopper Niamh Reid-Burke also returns to the squad.

Clubmate Siobhan Killeen is another welcome addition, as is Manchester City midfielder Megan Campbell.

Clare Shine, who recently returned home from Glasgow to sign with Cork City WFC has also been included, as has Karen Duggan, who was named Senior International Women’s Player of the Year at the FAI awards on Sunday night.

“I’m really looking forward to my first home game with Ireland,” Bell said following his selection. “It’s really important that we look to recapture the form we had in the Cyprus Cup.

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“We’ll also have more time to train in camp which will be great for me to look at our shape and style of play in more detail, and also get to know the players even more.

“I’ve brought in Keeva Keenan who has performed well in Scotland this season and has been on my radar so it will be great to get to work with her. It’s also great to have Julie-Ann [Russell] available after missing the Cyprus Cup and I’m looking forward to working with her.

“The young players will all stay with the U19s and hopefully help them qualify for the European Championships through the Elite stage. I’ll be going out with the U19s myself before I’m in camp with the senior team and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.”

Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Slovakia

Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Brighton and Hove Albion Women), Marie Hourihan (Manchester City Women), Niamh Reid-Burke (Shelbourne Ladies)

Defenders: Sophie Perry (Brighton and Hove Albion Women), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Louise Quinn (Notts County Ladies), Harriet Scott (Reading Women), Savannah McCarthy (Glasgow City), Jetta Berrill (UCD Waves), Keeva Keenan (Glasgow City)

Midfielders: Megan Campbell (Manchester City Women), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Denise O’Sullivan (Houston Dash), Megan Connolly (Florida State Seminoles), Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic FC Women), Stephanie Roche (Sunderland Ladies)

Attackers: Julie-Ann Russell (UCD Waves), Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Katie McCabe (Arsenal Ladies), Claire O’Riordan (Wexford Youths), Siobhan Killeen (Shelbourne Ladies), Clare Shine (Cork City WFC)

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