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Mixed emotions for Ireland U21 men and women

 

Goal threat: Michelle Carey
Goal threat: Michelle Carey

By John Flack

Ireland's Under 21 women saved the best to last at the European Championship in Valencia yesterday when a 5-1 win over France secured them seventh place.

But it was too late to save them from relegation and they will now return to the second-tier for the next Euros in two years time.

Ireland had scored only twice in their previous four matches but they at last found their touch in the circle yesterday.

All the goals came in the final 23 minutes, Michelle Carey and Laura Foley each scoring two with Michelle Barry also on target.

Ireland vice-captain Erin Getty, the Queen's defender said: "It was great to finish on a high note, proving that we have the ability to play at a high level against a French team that had 15 senior internationals.

"Ultimately, seventh wasn't where we wanted to finish but we can be proud of how we performed although losing our first group match to Russia cost us in the long run."

Ireland's U21 men had to settle for bronze at the second-tier Euros in the Czech Republic following a 4-1 win over Turkey on Saturday after losing 1-0 to Scotland in the promotion game 24 hours earlier.

Banbridge player Luke Witherow, the Ireland vice-captain said: "Finishing third is tough to take especially after training so hard for the last seven months.

"Our goal was to win the tournament or at least gain promotion and unfortunately we didn't achieve that.

"But the squad won't change much over the next year or two so the Ireland U21s are in good shape for the future."

Guy Sarratt hit two of the goals with Alistair Empey and Ulster's Callum Robson also on the scoresheet.

European U21 Championship: women: Ireland 5 (L Foley 2, M Carey 2, M Barry) France 1; men: Ireland 4 (G Sarratt 2, A Empey, C Robson) Turkey 1; Youth Six Nations (Eindhoven): boys: Ireland U18 2 (T Chambers, O Kidd) Spain 2; Ireland U16 0 Spain 5 (match abandoned due to flooded pitch); girls: Ireland U16 0 Spain 6; Ireland U18 0 Spain 2.

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