Jayne Ludlow's side have enjoyed another successful calendar year, and head into 2020 still undefeated in their qualifying group as they challenge for a place at the UEFA Women's EURO finals in 2021.
Built on Welsh Spirit
Check out this interactive online experience of Football in Wales during 2019:
It was also a memorable year for Jayne Ludlow on a personal level as she was awarded the MBE for her services to the women's game in Wales.
Meanwhile, Jess Fishlock tasted UEFA Women's Champions League success with Lyon, but suffered a serious injury later in the year.
A landmark sponsorship deal with Boots was also agreed in 2019, signalling the biggest commercial agreement in women's sport in Wales.
Here's a look back at some key events and quotes from the individuals involved in making this another memorable year for the women's senior team.
ITALY 2-0 CYMRU – INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – 22 JANUARY
“We only have a limited amount of time to work with the girls through the year so every camp is massively important,” explained Ludlow as experienced duo Loren Dykes and Jess Fishlock returned to the squad. Despite the result, Ludlow was impressed with the performance as the snow came down in Cesena, while Hayley Ladd earned her 50th international cap. “We were disappointed in how the two goals went in but they were in areas we can work on,” Ludlow added. “The things we worked on in training came out in the game and we competed fantastically well against a top level team today.”
UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2021 QUALIFYING DRAW – 21 FEBRUARY
Cymru went into the draw in Pot 2 and were drawn in Group C alongside Norway, Belarus, Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands. The finals will take place in England in the summer of 2021. “I'm really excited,” explained Ludlow following the draw. “The hard work starts again and hopefully it's one our players will be looking forward to. Norway are the standout team so it'll be a great test for us to go up against them.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 0-0 CYMRU – INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – 28 FEBRUARY
Cymru headed to Marbella for a warm weather training camp which would include two friendlies against the Republic of Ireland. “When you spend ten days on camp you need time to switch off football and do team bonding activities which help us grow together and hopefully help our performances when we’re out on the pitch,” explained Hayley Ladd. The opening match finished goalless, despite Jess Fishlock, Kayleigh Green, Angharad James and Natasha Harding all coming close for Cymru.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1-0 CYMRU – INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – 5 MARCH
“We found out new things about our game today and hopefully we'll learn from that experience,” explained Jayne Ludlow following the defeat. “It's all about preparation for the qualifiers, the more we learn ahead of those matches the better. We are disappointed with today's result but we have to move on from it.” Although it was a disappointing end to the training camp for Ludlow, there were plenty of positives to take from the two games and time together.
CYMRU 0-0 CZECH REPUBLIC – INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – 4 APRIL
A record number of tickets for a women's international friendly were sold well in advance of a match that would mark an appearance milestone for Loren Dykes with over 2,100 fans in attendance. The defender would keep a clean sheet on her 100th match for Cymru as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at Rodney Parade. “Any player that amasses that number of caps is obviously somebody that we're really proud of and somebody that we really value,” said Ludlow. “There were some really good performances from individuals in the opening half. We had a great attendance, and when you reflect on where we were before the last campaign, it's amazing. People are coming out and supporting us, and for us and it's about inspiring the next generation.”
CYMRU 1-0 NEW ZEALAND – INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY – 4 JUNE
Over 2,000 fans again came out to support the side at the Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff as a late winner from Kayleigh Green proved to be the difference against a team heading to the Women's World Cup finals and had beaten England just a few days before. “It was a great test for us and we're thankful they wanted to play us,” said Ludlow. “We created chances, and the most important and pleasing thing was the intensity we had at the end of the game. Having players to come off the bench and make an impact is something that every team wants and the challenge for the players is one they've taken on.”
FAROE ISLANDS 0-6 CYMRU – UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2021 QUALIFYING – 29 AUGUST
Natasha Harding scored a hat-trick as Cymru enjoyed a perfect start to the new qualifying campaign in Torshavn. Emma Jones, Rhiannon Roberts and an own goal competed the scoring, while 15-year old Carrie Jones came off the bench to make her senior international debut. “It's a great start to have six goals and clean sheet but we have plenty more to come starting against Northern Ireland on Tuesday,” said Ludlow after the match. “I'm really happy with the team effort and I'm pleased that Tash scored a hat trick tonight, she performed well and hopefully it'll continue for the rest of the campaign.”
CYMRU 2-2 NORTHERN IRELAND – UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2021 QUALIFYING – 3 SEPTEMBER
The side returned to Rodney Parade in Newport for their first competitive match at the stadium for over a year, and came within seconds of achieving a memorable win. The visitors started brightly and opened the scoring after just 11 minutes through Simone Magill, but Cymru responded through a deflected effort from Angharad James at the midway point in the opening half. Kayleigh Green appeared to have won the match for Cymru on 69 minutes, but captain Ashley Hutton equalised for Northern Ireland deep into injury-time. “Everyone was disappointed as it felt like a loss,” explained defender Rhiannon Roberts. “But it wasn't, we still took a point, and that's what we need to look at. We've just got to take what positives we can from it now into the next game.”
BELARUS 0-1 CYMRU – UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2021 QUALIFYING – 8 OCTOBER
Midfielder Rachel Rowe returned from serious injury to make her first international appearance for over a year and marked the occasion with the only goal of the game as Cymru claimed a crucial win in Borisov. Despite being without injured captain Sophie Ingle, the side made amends for dropping points against Northern Ireland in the previous match. “It's a tough place to come to,” explained Jayne Ludlow after the match. “We had chances and we got the three points, so I'm happy. I'm really pleased for Rachel, it was a great performance from her. The whole squad stepped up to the mark today and it was great to get the clean sheet too.”
NORTHERN IRELAND 0-0 CYMRU – UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2021 QUALIFYING – 12 NOVEMBER
“I think it's a good time to play them again,” explained versatile teenager Elise Hughes ahead of the match as Cymru headed to Belfast. “We're looking to win like we do in every game, and it's good that we get to play them again so soon after the draw. Hopefully we can put things right.” Captain Sophie Ingle returned as Cymru kept yet another clean sheet, but were once again held to a draw by Northern Ireland. “We could have had something more,” explained Jayne Ludlow after the match. “We competed well and we're progressing. We're four games unbeaten and we're in a good place ahead of next year.”
The side now return to UEFA Women's EURO 2021 qualifying with home fixtures against the Faroe Islands and Norway at Rodney Parade on 10 April and 14 April respectively. A further home fixture then takes place against Belarus on 9 June, before the qualifying action is completed away to Norway on 22 September. Cymru have never qualified for the finals of a major senior women's international tournament before, and confidence will be high with three home fixtures for the undefeated side in their remaining four games.
Check out BuiltOn.Cymru for a full End of Year Review for 2019 from the Football Association of Wales.