Ireland’s u22 Women’s European Championships campaign got off to a tough start with defeat against an efficient and well-drilled Portugal.
The hosts, who included several Senior capped CEV Silver League players in their ranks played with a high level throughout the match to run out 3-o winners, 25-12, 25-5, 25-9.
The opening set started confidently for Ireland, who executed their game plan well. It was clear the team were well prepared. TJ Sweeney linking up excellently with Munster Thunder team mate and Ireland captain Maria Jones – who was rated as the games top receiver. In fact, after 16 points the scores were tied eight apiece.
But Portugal’s class and experience showed with Marissa Pardal and captain Alice Clemente dominating play. Ireland fought hard and despite a difficult second set, started the third strongly – showing the tremendous spirit and resilience that sums up the group.
The youngest players in the squad excelled, with 16-year old Libero Holly Cassidy accurate in the back court, and 15 year old Gabi Smolen confident at opposite. Eimear Byrne in the middle was coping well against the physical height of the Portugese Middles.
Despite the result, some positive signs from the young Irish team, who look forward to a big challenge with Ukraine (Sat 3pm) next. The Ukrainians overcame a strong Denmark 3:2 in the earlier game.
Match Centre and full gallery > WJA-02, PORTUGAL v IRELAND | CEV
Stream > https://www.youtube.com/live/DXil2W3hmEQ?feature=share