Luxembourg Ladies entered the tournament on the back of a strong showing in the previous round in Amsterdam, where they recorded their first competitive win since 2008. With Belgium A and Belgium B entering the tournament tied at the top of the championship and Luxembourg and Dusseldorf both looking to secure 3rd, there was all to play for.
In the first match of the day against Belgium A, Luxembourg Ladies worked hard with goalie and vice-captain Noelle Lynch under severe pressure and making some excellent close-range saves. Captain Maria Timoney, leading by example, drove the team forward and was aided by the excellent Sinéad Marley who was sweeping the ball in defence and clearing the danger. On one of these clearances, Sinéad suffered a tournament-ending injury to her knee. Belgium A, led from midfield by the excellent Elaine Kennedy and goalkeeper Jelena Radakovic sweeping up the loose ball between her and the backline, were incessant. Luxembourg eventually succumbed but not before midfielder Orla Nash scored the goal of the game picking the ball up on her own goal line and soloing the ball the full length of the pitch and calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net. Final score Belgium A 4-8, Luxembourg 2-3.
Belgium B team the toughest challenge
In the second game of the day, Luxembourg came up against a fastly improving Dusseldorf team. Luxembourg, marshalled at the back by the excellent Rachael Glynn and the returning Lizzy Murphy, had to dig deep to come back from a slow start and a first-half deficit. With some excellent score-taking by Maura Clifford and Adele Leogue and with both Bridget Connolly and Linda Enright picking up the breaking ball around midfield, Luxembourg closed out the game for a 2-8 to 2-3 win.
In the last group game of the day, Luxembourg faced their toughest challenge of the day – against a vastly experienced and dogged Belgium B team. Despite a valiant, spirited performance by the ladies of Luxembourg, the Belgians proved unstoppable, with their midfield, led by eventual player of the tournament, Margaux Mansanarez, ultimately proving the difference between the two teams. This win was enough to secure places in the final for both Belgium A and Belgium B and left 3rd/4th place play-off to Luxembourg and Dusseldorf.
In a highly enjoyable play-off played in good spirit, Luxembourg played their best football of the season, with the excellent Jenny Sheehan creating space and scoring chances for others like Emma Ni Dhónaill and Cecile Albini to run into. The game was capped off by a wonderfully taken goal by Aishling Mulhern. Luxembourg ran out 4-3 to 0-6 winners to cement 3rd place in the 2014 Benelux Championship.
In the ladies final, Belgium B squared up to Belgium A in a highly entertaining affair. Despite sterling work by Kennedy and Jane Brennan on the Belgium A side, Belgium B, with the player of the tournament, the excellent Mansanarez, ran out easy winners on a score-line of 4-9 to 0-7 to clinch the 2014 Luxembourg Ladies Football Championship. This win was also enough to secure the 2014 Benelux Championship for the Belgium B’s.
Having recorded their best season in a number of years, and with confidence high, the Luxembirds will now turn their attention to preparing for the inaugural European 15 a-side tournament this August and the Pan-European Championship in October.