Match report: Stephanie Roche penalty seals comfortable home win for Republic of Ireland against Slovakia
Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team continued their fine run of form with a comfortable 1-0 victory over Slovakia at Tallaght Stadium.
Stephanie Roche’s second-half penalty was the difference as Head Coach Colin Bell got a win in his first home game since his appointment in February.
The contest started slowly and it wasn’t until the 39th minute that Ireland created the first opportunity of the game. Megan Connolly found space to thread a neat through-ball to Houston Dash star Denise O’Sullivan who ran on goal to have her first effort saved and her follow-up parried behind brilliantly by keeper Lucia El Dahabiova.
Straight after the break, Ireland took the lead as Connolly controlled a right-sided cross near the penalty spot and was brought down for the referee to award a penalty. Roche stepped up to put the ball to the keeper’s right and put Ireland into a deserved lead.
Slovakia failed to threaten throughout the match and were unfortunate not to fall further behind when the brilliant Katie McCabe picked up the ball on the half-way line to dart past two defenders, turn inside but her shot was well saved by the in-form El Dahabiova.
Nine minutes from the end, El Dahabiova was beaten but defender Alexandra Biroova came to her rescue when O’Sullivan hooked the ball into the area for the on-rushing Roche to flick the ball past the keeper but the defender slid in to clear.
McCabe deserved a goal in what was an inspirational performance from the Tallaght-born attacker and two minutes from the end, McCabe picked the ball up in the centre-circle, drove at the defence but her curling effort was well saved once again.
Head Coach Colin Bell said: “Delighted for the players to get the win. They’ve worked really hard in training this week and I’ve seen plenty of progress from the squad.
“Winning is a habit and since coming in, I think the players are beginning to pick it up and today, they gave the opposition very few opportunities which was great.
“It was only a 1-0 lead but I always felt like we were comfortable against a good Slovakia side so when you count today and the Cyprus Cup performances, we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
“I feel like we’re in a much stronger place now and really looking forward to getting the players back in for the Iceland and Scotland games in the summer.”
Republic of Ireland: Byrne (Hourihan 46), Perry, Scott, Quinn, Duggan, Caldwell, O’Gorman, Connolly (Russell 74), O’Sullivan, Roche (Littlejohn 86), McCabe (O’Riordan 89).
Subs not used: Reid-Burke (GK), McCarthy, Berrill, DeBurca, Shine, Keenan.
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