Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Nelson urges Northern IReland women to make Euro history

Julie Nelson (centre) is prepared for a fight to the finish as Northern Ireland aim to qualify for the Euro 2013 finals

Julie Nelson is ready to fight to the finish in order to make history.

Northern Ireland’s female footballers are dreaming of a place in the Euro 2013 finals after Saturday night’s stunning 3-1 victory over former world champions Norway.

And now the girls in green are aiming to boost their hopes of a play-off place by claiming a victory in Hungary today.

“We won’t rule out finishing second and getting a play-off until such times as it’s definitely out of the question,” said experienced defender Nelson.

“We’ll see how we perform in the games that we have to go and keep fighting until the last game.

“We’re looking for a win against Hungary to keep us in third place, or even get us into second.”

Northern Ireland have never qualified for a major finals in women’s football — indeed it is only six years ago that they entered competitive football with the full backing of the Irish FA.

Those recent results have sparked a real positive vibe about the squad, in contrast to the not too distant past when the last European Championship qualifying series ended with only a single point being collected in eight games.

“I’ve been playing for a few years and can remember times when we were losing a lot of matches and conceding a lot of goals,” said Nelson.

“It is great that things have turned around and we’re getting a few good results, but we have to remember that everyone we come up against is ranked much higher than us.”

Manager Alfie Wylie has been forced to convert Demi Vance, who made her debut as a winger aged just 16, into a left-back, but it’s a transition that the 20-year-old Glentoran Belfast United player has made seamlessly.

“We’re all excited after the win against Norway. It was the biggest win we’ve ever had since I came into the squad,” said Vance.

“It’s nice that people are taking notice of what we’re doing. The under-17 and under-19 teams have done well too so it’s a good time to be involved.”

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