There’s a sense of optimism emanating from the Irish camp ahead of the summer’s World Cup as head coach Vera Pauw praised the team’s effort for the ‘huge progress’ that has been made with the tournament just over three months away
By Joe Saunders
Ireland fell to their second defeat this week against world champions USA after a speculative Alana Cook effort in the 43rd minute caught goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan off her guard to ensure a 1-0 victory for the Americans in Missouri.
Off the back of the two-goal defeat on Saturday, the Girls in Green have shown that they’re capable of going toe-to-toe with one of the strongest squads at the competition.
Speaking to RTÉ after the game in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Pauw was positive on the playing style, praising the defensive 3-5-2 set-up.
“I think in this camp we’ve made huge progress, the Ireland boss noted. “In the way we play, we’re more confident going forward.
“We’re pretty set defensively, I think we need to work on the attack but we can take positives from both games.”
The Americans were far from full strength, but Ireland were resolute in defence with player of the match in Saturday’s game Louise Quinn once again impressing in the back three, before being moved up front in the latter stages on the search for the equaliser, but a clear cut chance proved elusive.
It will have been a fruitful window for the side with plenty of fringe players getting their chance to stake their claim for a spot on the plane, personified by Peamount United’s Tara O’Hanlon who joined up with the squad, making her senior debut with her Leaving Cert on the horizon.
While the absence of a goal in the pair of friendlies will alarm the team, Kyra Carusa proved to be a useful target up top against USA and Pauw is looking ahead to the next international window to work on the offensive side.
“We have had many dangerous situations and we’re just not there yet but that will come, the aggression in front of the goal that will come. We’ve got the whole of June and we will be there in Australia.”
Another cause for optimism is the inclusion of 33-year-old midfielder Sinead Farrelly, who made her international debut on Saturday, declaring for Ireland after representing USA at underage level. Farrelly had stepped away from the game in late 2016, but her eagerness to represent Ireland
through her father’s roots in Cavan is a welcome addition to Vera Pauw’s plans, excelling with her passing and calmness on the ball in the centre of the park in Saturday’s debut.
Looking ahead to the curtain raiser for the Irish side, their 20th of July opponents, Australia ended England’s 30-game unbeaten streak with a recent 2-0 victory.
Ireland will now look forward to friendlies against Zambia and France in early July to hone their efforts at the much-anticipated World Cup finals.
USA (4-3-3): Casey Murphy; Sofia Huerta, Becky Sauerbrunn (C) (Tierna Davidson 29′), Alana Cook, Kelley O’Hara (Casey Krueger 46′); Andi Sullivan (Julie Ertz 46′), Lindsey Horan (Kristie Mewis 60′), Ashley Sanchez; Sophia Smith (Trinity Rodman 46′), Alex Morgan (Ashley Hatch 46′), 28-Alyssa Thompson.
Substitutes not used: Alyssa Naeher, Lynn Williams, Emily Sonnett, Crystal Dunn, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma.
Ireland (5-4-1):Courtney Brosnan; Heather Payne (Tara O’Hanlon 84′), Megan Connolly, Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell (Hayley Nolan 58′), Katie McCabe (C); Lucy Quinn (Roma McLaughlin 69′), Denise O’Sullivan, Ruesha Littlejohn (Ciara Grant 58′), Marissa Sheva (Áine O’Gorman 69′); Kyra Carusa (Amber Barrett 85′).
Substitutes not used: Grace Moloney, Megan Walsh, Sophie Whitehouse, Harriet Scott, Jessie Stapleton, Claire O’Riordan, Jamie Finn, Alannah McEvoy, Abbie Larkin.