The Euro heroines from Northern Ireland are still young at heart and don’t need a major overhaul for the next campaign.

How many times at the beginning of this month did we hear the words “we don’t want this to be a one-off”?

it was said by the Northern Ireland players; Angela Platt, director of women’s football at the Irish Football Association and a former international team herself, said she wants the women’s Euro 2022 final to be the start of something special.

Three glamorous matches against Norway, Austria and England in Southampton marked the final chapter of a remarkable story that sees the 28th-placed team in Europe advance to a major tournament.

However, this nine-day period does not have to be the end, but only the end of a bright beginning.

The age composition of the team that manager Kenny Shiels took to the final plus those who missed out on the number 23, experience gained not only in the final but over the past three years, and the desire to taste the big time even more provides a strong blend of ingredients. to go again and get a chance to qualify for the European Championship in a row.

Much, as always, will depend on the draw.

Managerial decisions will also play a role, but it’s worth looking at what has happened since the last two major tournaments played by Northern Ireland men.

Back in 1986, Billy Bingham undertook an almost complete overhaul of his team after six great years during which he won two British Championship victories and consecutively qualified for the World Championship.

Pat Jennings retired anyway, but four of the 12 other players who played against Brazil – Jimmy Nicholl, John O’Neill and substitutes Jerry Armstrong and Billy Hamilton – never played again, and Sammy McIlroy only made a brief appearance against England the following October. .

Of the rest, Mel Donaghy and Alan McDonald have won over 40 more caps, Colin Clark could have done the same if not for injury, but David McCreary, Norman Whiteside, David Campbell and Ian Stewart have only played 30 international games. games between them.

With no continuity and experience to help young players progress, it’s no surprise that it took 30 years to qualify for another major final, leading us to Euro 2016.

After an adventure in France, Michael O’Neill was at a crossroads. Instead of turning around and trying to revamp a roster that did have a few aging players, he continued straight forward.

Only one player has made the decision to retire – ironically seasoned No. 6 Chris Baird announced the time after the European Championship, as did centurion Ashley Hutton this year.

Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley were in the same age group as Julie Nelson and Sarah McFadden, but O’Neal knew who he could build a foundation for the future on and they stayed on the team with younger players brought in together as well not a replacement.

The drive to do so nearly led to World Cup qualification less than 18 months later and, with just a few changes, with the older players actually retired, it was close when Jan Baraclough took over and just missed out on the Euro 2022 final.

None of the women’s senior players are looking to join Hatton in retirement, and Nelson, McFadden, Rachel Furness and Marissa Callaghan can help further nurture the younger players around them.

They have a healthy group of players under the age of 30 behind them who can still dream of playing on the big stages in the future – indeed, there is a full squad of 23 that could go to the next two Euros as well as the 2027 World Cup. .

At 25, Jackie Burns is the most senior member of the goaltending contingent. Although Demi Vance is in her 30s, she still has many years to spare and the only other defensemen over 25 are Laura Rafferty and Rebecca Holloway, both 26.

The midfield department is the same.

At 31, Nadene Caldwell can definitely be in at least one more campaign, and next in seniority is Chloe McCarron, who has a huge amount of experience at just 24 years old. It is followed by a host of young talents such as Joely Andrews and Louise McDaniel.

In terms of attack, the age group is going up a bit, but this should be seen as a good moment as in the 27-28 range, Kirsty McGuinness, Simone Magill and Lauren Wade have just reached their peak.

The difficulty is that of the 23 future players identified by Sunday Life Sport, 15 of them are currently still playing part-time for Irish league clubs and if the Euro 2022 tournament has shown us anything, we have taken a step away from this to playing against international teams of the highest level is a huge amount.

Players under 30 who were at Euro 2022

Jacqueline Burns March 6, 1997 (aged 25)

Becky Flaherty March 6, 1998 (aged 24)

Shannon Turner September 8, 1997 (aged 24)

Laura Rafferty April 29, 1996 (aged 26)

Rebecca McKenna April 13, 2001 (age 21)

Rebecca Holloway, August 25, 1995 (aged 26)

Kelsey Burroughs February 22, 2001 (age 21)

Abby Magee November 15, 2000 (age 21)

Chloe McCarron December 22, 1997 (aged 24)

Joely Andrews April 20, 2002 (age 20)

Louise McDaniel May 24, 2000 (aged 22)

Simone Magill November 1, 1994 (aged 27)

Kirsty McGuinness November 4, 1994 (aged 27)

Lauren Wade November 22, 1993 (aged 28)

Emily Wilson August 26, 2001 (aged 20)

Caitlin McGuinness August 30, 2002 (age 19)

Seven others who did not go, but may form the future line-up

Tony Lee Finnegan October 16, 2002 (age 19)

Rachel McLaren January 1, 2000 (aged 22)

Kara Hamilton October 18, 1996 (age 25)

Samantha Kelly August 1, 1997 (aged 24)

Megan Bell April 17, 2001 (age 21)

Kerry Beatty September 27, 2002 (age 19)

Daniel Maxwell April 9, 2002 (aged 20)

Young hopes that are sure to burst into the roster soon

Fay Morgan 19

Cora Chambers 18