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Ireland u19s Win Silver


Schedule & Results

Friday April 8, 4pm v Malta (win 3-1)

Saturday April 9 1pm v Northern Ireland (win 3-0)

Saturday April 9 7pm v Gibraltar (win 3-0)

Sunday April 10 12pm v Luxembourg (lost 3-0)

Ireland’s u19 Women’s team have made history with a silver medal finish at the CEV Small Countries Association Championships.

Evrim Genc Oguz’s team which featured no less than six players from Munster Thunder & five from Newbridge recorded Ireland’s best ever finish at this level. 

With three wins from four, Ireland take the silver behind hosts Luxembourg with Northern Ireland in third, followed by Malta and Gibraltar respectively.

Team: Maria Jones (c), Holly Cassidy, Aine Dowling, Jillian Sweeney, Rebecca Dobey, Aine Browne, Emer Phelan, Laura Connolly, Aisling O’Connor, Yousra Keybayli, Jess Dowling, Eimear Byrne, Amy O’Sullivan, Skye Haughton. Coach: Evrim Genc Oguz, Lucoa Barbato, Melissa Cheviron, Mark Delahunty.

Match Reports:

Match 4: Ireland v Luxembourg 0:3 (18-25, 19-25, 12-25)

Both teams headed into this game knowing a win would lead to gold, but any early nerves from Ireland were squashed when Jillian sweeney served up back to back aces to get Ireland off to a flyer, before Jess Dowling hit hard on the wing and to give Ireland a slender lead.

The hosts soon got into their swing repelling the Irish attacks with some fierce blocking at the net. 6ft2 Outside hitter Emma Van Elsande was explosive on the wing finding ways through and Luxembourg were 20-12 up.

The Ireland team has spirit and Rebecca Dobey served Team Green back into it, as the brilliant support in the stands got louder.

But with the tournaments stand out player Lily Tarantini on serve Luxembourg crept to the finish line to take the first 25-18.

Amy O’Sullivan aced Ireland to an early second set lead, the Munster Thunder opposite has gone toe to toe with the best over the weekend.

Dobey was in a great rhythm forcing an early timeout and an 8-5 lead before Luxembourg’s other powerhouse wing Tarantini found her form mixing explosive spiking and deft touch. But the resilience of the Irish team was clear and they kept finding ways through to lead 13-12, with Laura Connolly a wall at the net.

Luxembourg kept mixing the angles and built a lead and despite more aces from Dobey the hosts ran out 25-19 winners. Ireland being competitive in these gold medal matches shows how much progress as been made in recent years and with 14 year old libero Holly Cassidy controlling the back court and passing well to the incoming Emer Phelan Ireland were expressing their skills.  Unfortunately for the Irish defence Van Elsande was proving impossible to manage – a real talent and name to follow.

Captain Maria Jones was leading the response and Ireland saved 3 match points, including one of the plays of the day when DVCs Connolly blocked that woman Van Elsande to grab a point to rapturous applause and Connolly’s theme tune Monster Block blasted out.

However it wasn’t to be and the Lionesses power and experienced showed winning the third 25-12.

Playing with confidence and style Ireland finish in second place – the best performance ever by an Irish team at these championships and something that the players and coaching staff should be incredibly proud of.


Match 3: Ireland v Gibraltar 3:0 (25-8, 25-8. 25-11)

Ireland carried their fine form into game 3 to ensure at least a silver medal at the u19 Small Countries Championships in Luxembourg.

Aisling O’Connor, Eimear Byrne and Skye Haughton started well and it was the Newbridge opposite Byrne that served Ireland into an early 8 point lead. In fairness Ireland didn’t really get out of 2nd gear cruising to a 25-8 win, with captain Maria Jones too strong for the young Gibraltar team. Emer Phelan coming in at setter delivered a calm and composed performance delivering balls on a plate for the aggressive Haughton & Byrne.

The principality competed well at the start of the second and led early on before Byrne got back on serve combing precision and power with great effect driving Ireland clear.

Aine Dowling linked the attacks well at the net and combinations with her Holy Family secondary school colleagues Rebecca Dobey and Jess Dowling we’re reaping rewards as Ireland’s lead grew.

O’Connor coordinated the back court and Ireland were mixing attacks from a variety of angles cruising home 25-8.

Gibraltar built an early lead in what turned out to be the third and final set but once Ireland got into their groove there was no stopping them and Dobey served out to see the girls in black home 25-11.

All attention is now on the final game against the strong Luxembourg team – a win for Ireland means gold and a defeat gives Ireland a likely silver (Luxembourg still have Gibraltar to play) and the the best performance by an Irish Junior girls team in history.


Match 2: Ireland V Northern Ireland 3:0 (28-26, 28-7, 28-5)

Ireland overcame a tight opening set with neighbours Northern Ireland to maintain a 100% Small Countries Association Championships record (28-26, 25-7, 25-5).

Amy O Sullivan started the game as she finished the last firing the opening point down the middle, before Jess Dowling’s strong serves opened up a lead with a fearsome ace.

Ireland didn’t quite get into their rhythm in the early encounters though, with Northern Ireland attacking well from back court leaving the game all square ten a piece and then 12:12.

O’Sullivan coming back on to serve took Ireland to a timeout and a 3point lead but NIR wouldn’t go away showing great determination and fight, clawing it back to to 17 all. Middle blocker Aine Browne on serve got Ireland to within 3 for the set but our northern friends reached a new level and it was back within 1.

An epic rally got Ireland to set point but it was all square once more as Zoe Hennessy controlled the game at this stage.

The raucous team green supporters club in the stands were biting their nails as NIR had set point but Captain Maria Jones’ introduction calmed nerves and O’Sullivan served Ireland to a 28-26 first set win.

The early part of the second set followed a similar pattern with both teams exchanging monster blocks. In fact it was middle Laura Connolly – yesterday’s MVP who got Ireland moving with 8 consecutive serves and into a 14-5 lead which they never looked like surrendering.

Maria Jones the first set sub was now finding her stride and served out the game to give Ireland a convincing win 25-7.

That form continued into the third with Newbridge pair Rebecca Dobey and Eimear Byrne attacking with power and precision. The impressive Dobey dominated the net and her service game was just too strong. Aisling O’Connor was busy and sharp at Libero and in the end Ireland ran out comfortable winners 28-26, 25-7, 25-5.

Next up for Evrim’s team is Gibraltar at 7pm this evening.

Match 1: Ireland V Malta 3:1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-20, 25-11)
Ireland open their u19 Women’s Small Countries Association Championships campaign with a convincing display against Malta, winning out 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-22, 25-9)

Munster Thunder’s Maria Jones settled any early nerves with 3 consecutive aces to get Ireland off to a flyer. Jones’ confidence on the wing clearly growing with hard hitting and deft touches stretched Ireland’s lead to 5 points before Jess Dowling service game opened an 11-5 gap.


It was an impressive first set and introduction to the tournament for the Irish team, setting a marker for the weekend.


Malta sprung into action in the second and stormed into a 6-2 lead before Browne extended her form driving Ireland into a 10-6 position. Ireland steadily built their lead into a commanding one but Malta’s never say die attitude pulled them right back into the game before serving out a nerve wracker by 2 points.


Newbridge setter Aine Dowling was introduced in the third and got to work coordinating a string of attacks for Amy O’Sullivan. Dowling’s job was made easier by the accuracy of debutant Holly Cassidy at libero, who worked the back court. The San Diego based 14 year old was everywhere.

Despite an early 4 point lead the Irish team couldn’t get clear of Malta and the set was nip and tuck. In fact, Malta looked set to build their biggest lead of the match when Cassidy chased down a lost cause and O’Sullivan finished strongly. This seemed to kick Ireland into gear, but Malta’s determined and plucky approach meant they never went away.
The early morning flight was catching up on Ireland with some tired serves finding the net. MVP Connolly’s reintroduction sparked some energy and with Jones back on to serve Ireland edged clear. Jess Dowling’s power serves got Ireland to set point and O’Sullivan forced the line to win it by 3.
Into the third and Ireland cruised into a 9-2 lead with Jones, O’Sullivan and Connolly dominating the middle of the court. That combination was too strong once they found their first set rhythm.
Malta couldn’t stem the flow of attacks and it was left to the finisher O’Sullivan to get Ireland’s first win on the board. Next up for Evrim’s young team are Northern Ireland and Gibraltar tomorrow, followed by the hosts Luxembourg at Sunday lunchtime.
All games are streamed live >