Kenny Shiels tells Northern Ireland to ignore the Gulf of England in Euro 2022 swansong


Kenny Shiels has urged Northern Ireland to “put the rift between his side and England out of their minds” as they take on the Lionesses in their final game of Euro 2022 on Friday.

Northern Ireland lost their first major tournament after losing 4-1 and 2-0 to Norway and Austria respectively, but will be proud against the hosts in Southampton.

The Shiels side have faced the Lionesses three times since early 2021, going 6-0, 4-0 and 5-0 over the course of the encounters – most recently at home.

However, the Northern Ireland manager insists his side must look beyond England’s higher profile in the game when the sides meet at St Mary’s.

Shiels said: “When we played them (in February 2021) I did a friendly. I was told not to do it. Crazy in the head but I did the friendly against England at St George’s Park and I was so mad because the girls signed their autographs after the game.

“The greatness of England, we have to try to get that out of our minds and we have to try to play for team rather than opportunity.

“It’s a great opportunity for our girls to play in such a full house and we want to do our best and if we do our best then we can’t complain. We don’t want to leave anything behind.

“This is the pinnacle of our EURO finals and we want to feel good and we certainly tried to do that.”

Northern Ireland has already been eliminated from the competition (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

(PA wire)

The Northern Ireland women’s team was disbanded in the late 1990s and only resumed play in 2004 – a stark contrast to the Lionesses.

Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan explained the gap between the two sides on funding and professionalism.

“Listen, we have to enjoy this challenge,” she said. “We know that England are one of the best teams in the world and that they are experienced professionals.

“We have 13 players from an Irish league who are amateurs. We get up in the morning and go to work, we train in the evening. It’s day and night compared to their preparation.

“We have a good mix of young players and veteran players, just like them, but it’s just that our paths have been very different.

“But we’re here and the preparation, as always, has been fantastic and we’re going to go out there and do our best, can’t do anything but that and we’re going to enjoy it.

“The fans have been amazing and it has brought tears to a lot of the players and tomorrow will be the same so hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.” Kenny Shiels tells Northern Ireland to ignore the Gulf of England in Euro 2022 swansong

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