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Northern Ireland Under-19s suffer narrow defeat

Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-19 team were defeated 1-0 by Republic of Ireland’s WU19s in a friendly in Belfast.

Northern Ireland boss Gail Redmond had a 22-strong panel to choose from for the second friendly played between the teams this year. Back in September, Northern Ireland won 1-0 at the Blanchflower thanks to a late goal from Keri Halliday, who was elevated to the senior squad for this month’s UEFA Women’s Nations League games against Albania and Republic of Ireland.

There was a late change to Northern Ireland’s starting line-up. Defender Mikayla Wildgoose picked up an injury in the warm-up. She was replaced by Faye Loughran.

It was a cagey affair in the first half, with few chances created by either side. Northern Ireland’s first chance came after five minutes when Kascie Weir and Sofie Keenan combined well to tee up Aimee Kerr, whose effort went just over the bar. Around the fifteen minute mark, Keenan fired in some dangerous corners but the Republic defended well.

On 35 minutes Naomi McLaughlin almost put the home side ahead. She hit the bar with a well-struck free kick. The Republic applied pressure towards the end of the half and went close with a couple of efforts.

The Republic had the first clearcut opportunity of the second half, and Northern Ireland keeper Kate Smith made a fine stop on 57 minutes. Smith was in action again soon after to repel a curling shot, while the Republic missed a couple of other chances.

On 78 minutes a well worked corner saw the ball drop to Northern Ireland substitute Niamh O’Donnell but her strike was saved by the Republic keeper.

The only goal of the game was scored in the 89th minute when Smith was beaten by a powerful curling shot from the edge of the area.

Northern Ireland U19: Kate Smith, Orleigha McGuinness, Sofie Keenan, Abi Sweetlove, Faye Loughran, Sarah Tweedie, Aimee Kerr, Aoibhe O’Neill, Kascie Weir, Naomi McLaughlin, Rachel McIntyre. Subs: Megan Neill, Rhyleigh Marks, Mia Moore, Niamh O’Donnell, Emily Reid, Tara Gilmore, Erin McAllister, Sophie Gargan, Erin Morrison, Lucy Johnston.

Republic of Ireland U19: Katie Keane, Lia O’Leary, Kate Thompson, Jessica Fitzgerald, Hannah Healy, Aoife Kelly, Jodi Loughrey, Rola Olusola, Amber Faulkner, Ceola Bergin, Mary Philips. Subs: Michaela Lawrence, Eve Dossen, Joy Ralph, Aoibhe Fleming, Meabh Russell, Jayne Merren, Izzy Ryan, Aoife O’Connor, Keri Loughrey.