ROMA MCLAUGHLIN HOPES to keep the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19s top of their UEFA qualifying group with a win over Italy tomorrow in Macedonia.
Greencastle woman McLaughlin is a key figure in Dave Connell’s Irish squad, who secured advancement to the Elite Qualifiers in March thanks to a 2-0 win over Wales on Thursday.
That followed a 10-0 win over hosts Macedonia and now the Girls in Green face Italy in Skopje tomorrow afternoon.
“The objective when we came out here was nine points, so we know that we have to beat Italy to complete that. We are pushing to top the group,” said McLaughlin.
“If we top the group we have a better chance of avoiding the bigger teams in the Elite Round, but we also want to show the rest of Europe that we are a good side and that we are in the mix for the finals.”
Connell has added the likes of Alex Kavanagh and Leanne Kiernan (who scored a brace of goals against Wales) to his ranks.
McLaughlin plays with the Dublin-based Peamount in the Women’s National League and was the League’s Young Player of the Season in the 2015/16 campaign.
After an impressive start in Macedonia, McLaughlin – described in reports as a ‘Master Puppeteer’ against Wales – wants to finish the week in style tomorrow.
She said: “I think the two games that we’ve played, against Macedonia and Wales, have showed that we have goalscorers throughout the team and that’s a big asset for us to have.
“When we played in the Under 17 finals in Iceland we struggled to get shots on target, but we’ve now addressed that.
“This is probably the closest squad that I have been involved with and it definitely helps that we all get on together off the pitch. We just have to keep it going now and get the win against Italy.”