Under-17 girls can get Milk Cup off to a flyer
Manager Alison Nicholl promises that Northern Ireland's Under-17 friendly with the Republic tomorrow at Ballymena Showgrounds (3pm) will be no picnic for her players.
The game has the distinction of being a curtain raiser to the Dale Farm Milk Cup, the international youth tournament which kicks off next week.
The inaugural women's one-day football festival will feature 10 teams from across the province in a seven-a-side Under-13 competition.
Organisers hope the festival will further enhance the appeal of the international youth tournament which culminates with finals night at the Warden Street venue next Friday.
Alison, who also plays and coaches at Coleraine ladies, said: "This is not only an exciting addition to the Dale Farm Milk Cup but our game is an extremely useful exercise as we look towards European qualifying in September and two friendly matches before that against Hungary at Ballymena Showgrounds on August 25 and 27.
"The Republic have a very strong squad and have qualified for back-to-back Euro finals - something we aspire to - so this is an exciting opportunity for our players to test themselves. The girls have been working hard lately.
"We have stepped up training to double sessions at the Dub in Belfast with some weekend work too."
Northern Ireland squad: Caiomhe Callaghan (Linfield), Lauren Currie (Portadown), Brooke Baine (Crusaders), Lauren Robson (Linfield), Blaithin Mackin (Newry), Megan Beattie (Crusaders), Chloe Orr (Mid Ulster), Rebecca Bassett (Glentoran), Katie Martin (Glentoran), Emma McMaster (Newry), Yasmin White (Glentoran), Caitlyn Hamilton (Dungoyne), Louise Crawford (Linfield), Aine Smith (Ballynahinch), Emma Harper (Killen), Ellie Rix (Ferman).