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Aoife Mannion could not hide her disappointment and hurt following England's 2-0 defeat to France in the UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship Final.
England had given a brave performance against a very strong French side and an emotional Aoife, who had a fine tournament in the centre of defence, spoke to Women's Soccer Scene after the game.
"We brought everything on the pitch and come off proud," she said. "I've got a silver medal but I'm a bit caught up in the emotion at the minute, but when we look back on it we did quite well.
"We came a lot further than we thought we could and developed as a team during the tournament. The semi final performance was really good but of course I am gutted at the moment."
England's excellent second half effort almost brought them a goal which would probably have won the game, coming closest when Beth Mead's shot was inches away from finding the net. "The margins are really small," admitted Aoife. "We put everything into the second half and improved from the first but we just didn't cut it in the end.
"After they scored, we were pushing so hard for a goal but then it never came and they got another one."
That first goal came during the first period of extra time through a deflected header which was a particularly painful moment for Aoife. "It went in off my leg," she recalled. "It just felt like it was going in slow motion and we just couldn't quite get to it, but it's one of those things. Fair play to France, they really did give it to us more than any other team in the tournament and ruined our no goals conceded dream, but there you go."
The England team will have another tournament to aim for next year, their perfomance having earned them a place in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup Finals in Canada. "We've absolutely loved it and we've got such a good foundation for Canada next year," said Aoife. "When we came into the tournament that was the goal in the back of our minds, to get to Canada, and we just thought 'next step, next game' and how we are going to improve our performance - and that landed us in the Final. "We gave everything and come away with pride and I've got a silver medal."
Aoife herself was part of a watertight England defence which kept six successive clean sheets in tournament play and only conceded in extra time in the Final. The Birmingham City defender was particularly pleased with her central defensive partnership alongside Meaghan Sargeant. "We're like mind readers and know what each other is thinking and work really well together," she smiled. "There is a lot of trust on the back line and it's a nice feeling."
Aoife also reserved special praise for the England supporters who followed them during the tournament and backed them all the way. "You can always hear them and they always seem louder than the other team," she said. "Even against Wales, they gave the Welsh fans a good run for their money, so we're really proud of our fans and appreciate the support they gave.
"We'll enjoy the moment now and our medals but then it is back to the training programme and attention to detail to try and give something good in Canada next year, which is our goal now. It's hard at the moment because we've just lost, but we're proud of each other - they are such a lovely team to play with."
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