Republic of Ireland face Slovakia in second Istria Cup game
The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team will face Slovakia tomorrow in their second Group A game at the Istria Cup in Croatia. The match will kick-off at 10.30am (Irish time) close to the team’s base in Umag.
The Slovakians will be very familiar to the Irish who faced them in their recent World Cup qualifying campaign and beat them 2-0 in Bray in September 2013 and 1-0 in Slovakia last September. However, those two wins were hard earned and the Slovakians showed on Wednesday when they drew 1-1 with tournament favourites Austria that they are a rapidly improving side.
“The two games in the group on Wednesday showed that everybody is capable of taking points off each other so we are not going to take the Slovakia game lightly and we will go into it hoping to get the three points. But we won’t be taking it for granted or thinking it is going to be an easy task. The group is wide open but the second game now becomes vital and we will be looking to get three points tomorrow” said Meabh De Burca.
The Galway WFC midfielder played as a defensive midfielder in Ireland’s 1-1 draw against Hungary on Monday and, like everybody else in the squad, was disappointed not to emerge with a win from a game Ireland dominated.
“We had our eyes set on three points to get off to a good start but the main thing in tournaments like this is that you don’t lose the first game. So, to come back from a goal against the run of play showed a bit of character and we definitely could have won the game at the end with the amount of chances we had. But, we’ll take the positives from it anyway.
“We were pretty solid defensively and Emma Byrne only had one save to make from open play over the 90 minutes. When you are so solid defensively and create so many chances going forward it is disappointing not to win but the shooting boots weren’t on yesterday so hopefully we can put those wrongs right in the next few games.”
The game against Hungary saw manager Sue Ronan hand senior debuts to Katie McCabe and Sarah Rowe who, along with Lauren Dwyer and Megan Connolly, are a quartet that have been promoted from last year’s successful U19 squad and it brings back memories to De Burca of her first tentative steps in national squad.
“I think these March tournaments, if we all look back, are the games where we were all weaned into the team because it is very difficult to throw someone in during a competitive qualifier when you are not too sure what way it will go for them. New players coming in always keep everyone on their toes. Katie and Sarah did well and it is good to see fresh young faces around the place as well.”
Manager Ronan won’t name her team until tomorrow morning but she does intend to freshen it up so some of the players who didn’t feature on Wednesday against Hungary are likely to start. Two players definitely out of the Slovakia game are Katie McCabe and Sarah Rowe who made their senior international debuts on Wednesday. McCabe suffered a bruised foot while Rowe, who is a third level student, was instructed by her college to return to Dublin to play in GAA match tonight. Emma Beckett, who missed the Hungary game because of a groin injury, took a full part in training today and is available for selection.
“We were disappointed with the result against Hungary after putting in a good performance so the girls are keen to get back out on the pitch and make amends,” said Ronan. “We know Slovakia well having played them twice during the recent World Cup qualifying campaign. We know they are an improving side and their result against a very good Austria team shows just how much they have improved. We needed a last minute goal to beat them last September and I feel this game is going to be just as tight.”
The Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United).
Defenders: Megan Campbell (Florida State University), Meabh De Burca (Galway WFC), Lauren Dwyer (Raheny United), Niamh Fahey (Chelsea), Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United).
Midfielders: Emma Beckett (Amazon Grimstad), Carol Breen (Wexford Youths Women’s AFC), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes), Ciara Grant (UCD Waves), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves).
Forwards: Megan Connolly (College Corinthians), Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic), Fiona O’Sullivan (Notts County), Stephanie Roche (Houston Dash).
Istria Cup 2015
Group A Results
March 4 – Republic of Ireland 1 Hungary 1, Austria 1 Slovakia 1
Group A Table
March 6 – Group A: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Umag, 10:30 (Irish time).
March 9 – Group A: Republic of Ireland v Austria, Rovinj, 13:00 (Irish time).
March 11 – Positional Play-off (TBC).
View all the Istria Cup 2015 fixtures.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.