Irish sisters look forward to French challenge

The Republic of Ireland women's senior team will play France in an international friendly, tomorrow (Thursday, February 25th) in Richmond Park.

Irish manager, Noel King has called two additional players into the squad. Last year's U19 captain, Louise Quinn and American born, Shelby Murphy who has been in prolific form for the Irish U19 side this season have been added to the squad.

380778Meanwhile, American born Irish sisters, Shannon McDonnell (pictured right) and Mary Therese McDonnell have reaffirmed the importance of the imminent friendly against a strong French outfit. Younger sister, Mary Therese first represented Ireland when they travelled to the USA to play the Olympic Champions in three friendly matches in 2008 while Shannon impressed in last summer's training camp in Indiana and the Illinois based duo have been ever-presents in Noel King's squad since.

Speaking ahead of the game, Shannon McDonnell  said, "The squad have been together for the past few days and there is an extra buzz around the camp with the addition of a couple of younger players who are fitting in really well. While the game against France is a friendly, we are all fully aware of the imminent World Cup qualifiers against Israel and Switzerland which take place next month. Even though France are a world class team, we will be focusing solely on our own game plan and hopefully we can deal with what France have to offer and push them hard for a positive result. This is a tremendous experience for me to play with Ireland and although the squad have been very welcoming, having my sister (Mary Therese) in the squad is definitely an advantage as I feel that we push each other much harder as we strive for better performances," she said.

380954Her sister, Chicago Red Stars defender, Mary Therese McDonnell (pictured right) eyed-up a big scalp when they meet their French opponents on Thursday, "You never go out on a football pitch thinking of anything other than winning the game. Our main focus is on the preparation for the World Cup qualifiers but I think that a positive result against the French would be a good result for us. People have questioned why we are playing such top quality opposition in a friendly but from my point of view; that just goes to show how good a coach Noel King is - we don't want to go out and look good against a poor opponent. We want to challenge ourselves against the best and continue our development as a football team," she said.

The friendly will be used as key preparation for Noel King's side who will play two FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March with a visit to Israel on March 21st followed by a home game against Switzerland on March 31st.

The Girls in Green currently sit in 3rd place in Group 6 of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers behind Switzerland and Russia after four games.

France, who are currently ranked 9th in the FIFA Women's World Rankings lead Group 1 with maximum points ahead of Iceland, Croatia and Northern Ireland.

Republic of Ireland squad

Lynn Bradley - Raheny United
Emma Byrne - Arsenal FC
Jemma Connor - Birmingham City Ladies
Meabh De Burca - Salthill Devon
Niamh Fahey - Arsenal FC
Dora Gorman - Salthill Devon FC
Ciara Grant - Arsenal FC
√Āine O'Gorman - Stella Maris
Sonya Hughes - Unattached
Mary Therese McDonnell - Chicago Red Stars
Shannon McDonnell - Unattached
Michele O'Brien - Chicago Red 11
Fiona O'Sullivan - Sacramento Storm
Stephanie Roche - Raheny United FC
Julie Ann Russell - Salthill Devon FC
Yvonne Tracy - Arsenal FC
Ciara McCormack - Kolbotn FC
Louise Quinn - Peamount United
Shelby Murphy - Slammers FC

International friendly
Republic of Ireland v France
Thursday, February 25th
Richmond Park, Dublin 8
Kick-off: 7.30

Admission prices
Adults: ‚ā¨5
Children U16: ‚ā¨2

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