Under 17s progress to Elite Round of UEFA European Championship qualifying with win over Belarus

Carla McManus and Orla Casey were on target for the home side

Carla McManus

Image: FAI

The Republic of Ireland Women's Under 17s clinched qualification to the Elite Round of UEFA European Championship qualifying following a 2-0 victory over Belarus in Turner's Cross.

Dave Bell's team went into the game leading Group 10 after their opening night 6-0 victory over Faroe Islands and they wasted little time in making a mark on this game.

Carla McManus - who notched a hat-trick in the previous game - scored first with a superb finish into the top corner on 11 minutes and Ireland held that lead going into the interval.

Thirty seconds after the restart, Orla Casey increased their lead when she fired in after her initial shot was blocked down. It was her second goal in as many games.

Bell's influence on the team was evident in the second period as Ireland played a fluid attacking game that saw wide players Heather Payne and Isibeal Carolan dominated with their speed and skill.

The movement of McManus and Alannah McEvoy caused a constant headache for the visitors, while Tyler Toland's command of the midfield allowed defensive cover and support in attack.

Belarus attempted to spoil the Ireland party late on, but goalkeeper Erica Turner showed that she was fully alert by pulling off a fantastic save to deny Karina Olkhovik.

Set up in a 3-4-3 system, Bell's team moved the ball confidently, closed down space quickly, and made the most of possession. The backline of Sadhbh Doyle, Tiegan Ruddy, and Doireann Fahey were assured, while the midfield duo of Megan Mackey and Casey covered a huge amount of ground.

Payne could have made it three for the hosts, but her shot from the left dragged wide of the goal. It didn't matter though because Ireland had done enough to claim the three points.

Top spot in the group will now come down to next Monday night's clash with Iceland in Turner's Cross. They have taken a big step towards next summer's finals tournament in Czech Republic, but going into the Elite Round as top seeds is Ireland's next target.

Republic of Ireland: Turner; Doyle, Ruddy, Fahey (Lynagh 79); Mackey, Toland, Casey; Payne, McEvoy, Carolan (Singleton 74); McManus (O'Donoghue 75).

Belarus: Svidunovich; Savko, Scherbo, Kazhukhar, Ramanchuk; Tataryn, Hirchyts (Sitnikava 78), Bohdan, Rymarava, Shlapakova (Maysyuk 49); Olkhovik.