Joely Andrews: Northern Ireland in major finals cannot become ‘one thing’

Midfielder Joely Andrews insists Northern Ireland taking part in a major tournament cannot become a ‘one-off’ after their early exit from Euro 2022.

The Championship debutants’ hopes of reaching the knockout stages were dashed on Monday night by a 2-0 loss to Austria.

Kenny Shiels’ side, who were beaten 4-1 by Norway in their opener, will complete Group A on Friday against fearsome hosts England.

The Glentoran Andrews player is one of seven women aged 22 or under in the Northern Ireland squad and is desperate for new chances on the big stage.

“For so many of us to be in this team at this tournament at such a young age, we’ve had a taste of it now and it only makes us hungrier and so desperate to qualify again,” said the 20-year-old, who came off the bench against the Austrians at Southampton.

“It can’t be a one-time thing, it can’t be, ‘Do you remember that time Northern Ireland qualified for a major tournament?’

“We need to push now and really kick things off and make sure it happens again in the future.

Northern Ireland’s Joely Andrews, second left, challenges Austria striker Katharina Naschenweng in Monday’s 2-0 defeat at St Mary’s (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“We now know what it takes to get here and hopefully we can put things in place to do it again.”

Northern Ireland rarely threatened to score against Austria but stayed in the game until two minutes from time when substitute Katharina Naschenweng added on Katharina Schiechtl’s opener.

They were then knocked out of the Euros after England secured top spot in the group with an 8-0 record against Norway along the south coast in Brighton.

The lowest ranked nation in the competition will return to St Mary’s for a third and final time at the end of the week for a daunting showdown with the Lionesses.

England have won the teams’ 10 previous meetings, scoring 54 goals and conceding just two.

Andrews, who “dived” watching Sarina Wiegman’s side humiliate the Norwegians, is set for a tough task of what is effectively dead rubber.

“England are top class and I think they’ve shown why they’re one of the tournament favorites, so that’s a huge ask for us,” she said.

“But we know it’s our last game in this tournament, we’ll leave everything there.

“They just showed their quality (against Norway) really. I think it can happen to any team, but we know we will settle in, we will be very tight and we will close spaces so that they exploit us as much as possible.

Andrews played out a 5-0 World Cup qualifying loss to the Lionesses in April in Belfast.

“It’s definitely the toughest game I’ve ever played, so Friday will probably be even better,” she continued.

“It’s an incredible effort, but I think as a group we will rally together. We have been in this situation before. We know what it takes and we will give it our all.