Lagan Harps stiker earns U19s a draw in Portugal

MANORCUNNINGHAM’S finest, Amber Barrett, poached the Portuguese goalkeeper in the 85th minute of the Republic of Ireland’s friendly clash in the Jorge Sampaio Municipal Stadium in Pedroso on Tuesday to give the U19s a deserved draw.

The Lagan Harps striker lined up alongside Greencastle’s Gemma McGuinness for a warm-up ahead of their UEFA qualifying matches later this month.

She showed tremendous awareness to quickly close down the Portuguese goalkeeper Tatiana Beleza as she tried to deal with an underhit backpass and, after successfully blocking her clearance, Barrett rolled the ball into the empty net.

The Irish could have snatched victory after that when Aisling Frawley sent a snap shot inches wide and Michelle O’Regan drilled a volley inches over the crossbar.

Dave Connell’s side had fallen behind just before half-time when, after some good defensive blocking, the ball fell kindly for Portuguese striker Diana Silva and her mishit shot looped over Irish goalkeeper Jill Maloney.

With temperatures still in the 30s when the game kicked off at 8pm local time the Irish struggled in a scrappy first half and needed Maloney to make good stops from Norton and Silva.

But, they were much stronger in the second period and could have equalised long before Barrett’s goal with Sarah Rowe, in particular, unlucky not to score with one excellent effort well saved by Beleza while another flashed across the front of goal.

“It was a good performance, especially in the second half, and I’m very pleased with how the girls dealt with the condition and very good Portuguese team. We showed a lot of character in the second half and I thought we were probably unlucky not have won it in the end,” said Connell afterwards.

Tomorrow (Thursday, September 5) the women take on Portugal in a second test at 11am in the Canelas Stadium in Porto.