Fresh after making her first competitive start in Saturday’s win over Croatia Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team winger Siobhan Killeen flew out to Moscow today eagerly looking forward to Thursday’s crunch World Cup qualifier against Russia.
Ireland trail second place Russia by five points but can reduce that gap to just two points with three games to go by winning in Moscow. Given the Russians are ranked much higher than the Irish, were at last year’s European Championships and won 3-1 in Tallaght last month, it’s a tall ask for Sue Ronan’s young squad but Killeen believes the Irish have nothing to lose.
“I don’t think there is any pressure on us,” she said. “We are away from home and they beat us in Tallaght last month so expectation levels are low. But we know how important the game is and we will all going hell for leather because we owe them one. We didn’t do ourselves justice in the last game. We just didn’t do the basics right. They only beat Slovenia 2-1 on Saturday so it just shows how competitive the group has become and we’re hoping we can produce a good performance and see what that gets us.”
Saturday marked the fifth appearance at senior level for the 21-year-old Raheny United player who is the latest player to come through the underage ranks.
“I was excited at starting the game,” admitted Killeen. “I wasn’t too nervous and I was delighted it was at home. I hadn’t played against Croatia before but the other girls had told me what to expect and I had seen the video analysis.
“We had a very attacking formation which was great as I enjoy taking on players, beating them and getting crosses in. It doesn’t matter which flank I play on. I am right-footed and some managers I have played under like me on the left cutting in for a shot while others have wanted me on the right and crossing. Myself and Julie-Ann (Russell) switched a few times so there was plenty of variety.”
Despite dominating the game and creating plenty of chances Ireland had to wait until injury time at the end of the game before the outstretched leg of Denise O’Sullivan finally broke the deadlock but Killeen felt it was no more than Ireland deserved.
“We didn’t panic. We kept our composure and kept trying to do the right thing and eventually we got the goal. As the game went on there was always the fear that they would nick one and I think we all got a fright when they hit crossbar. I thought it was going to be like Germany all over again.”
Having been in a training camp in the Algarve in 2012, when she was still part of the U19 squad, Killeen was called up for the Cyprus Cup last March and made her senior debut against New Zealand where she made an immediate impact by supplying the cross from which Aine O’Gorman headed Ireland into the lead.
“It was lovely to be involved with the squad and to make my debut against New Zealand. It was a nice feeling to get something out of my first game,” said Killeen who has been a key part of Raheny United’s success over the past few seasons.
Ireland manager Sue Ronan has brought the 18 players who were on duty last Saturday to Russia and while some players are carrying minor knocks there are no major concerns at this stage.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United). Defenders: Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes), Karen Duggan (Peamount United), Mary Therese McDonnell (Unattached). Midfielders: Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United), Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United), Dora Gorman (Peamount United), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal). Forwards: Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Ruesha Littlejohn (Sandviken), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United).