The Republic of Ireland senior team finished their European Women's Championship campaign this afternoon with a 2-0 win over Israel.
Two goals in two minutes midway through the second half from Fiona O'Sullivan and Julie Ann Russell were enough to give the Irish their third win of the campaign as they finished fourth behind France, Scotland and Wales and nine points ahead of Israel.
Temperatures of almost 35 degrees in Ramat Gan ensured this was a tough test for the Irish and they struggled in the opening half. Indeed, it two excellent saves from Emma Byrne to deny Shelina and Falkon ensured that the Irish went in level at half-time.
The introduction of Aine O'Gorman, for her 50th cap, and Stephanie Roche certainly help to lift the Irish in the second half and they eventually broke the deadlock after 65 minutes when Fiona O'Sullivan scored. Two minutes later Julie Ann Russell added a second to put Ireland firmly in the driving seat. They had chances to extend their lead after that but failed to take them.
"It was hard work, but a win is a win," said Ireland manager Sue Ronan afterwards. "It was very hot and Emma Byrne kept us in the game in the first half with a couple of good saves. Aine and Stephanie certainly made a difference when they came on and gave us an injection of urgency which helped us lift the pace and grab a couple of goals."
Ronan now has 12 months to prepare for the start of the 2015 World Cup qualifiers and will use that time to assess the credentials of the young players coming through the underage systems as well as trying to improve the conditioning of the players.
"We have a lot of good young players who are excellent technically but are not physical or powerful enough. We need to look at how we can improve their conditioning but that was certainly the difference between ourselves and the teams that finished above us in the group," said Ronan.
Israel: Merav Shamir, Michal Ravitz, Diana Redman, Naama Cohen (Tal Shino 66), Sarit Shenar (Maya Barqui 84), Rachel Shelina (Yifat Cohen), Adva Tawil, Moran Fridman, Oshrat Eni, Moran Lavi Lee Sima Falkon. Unused subs: Sapir Kadori, Tal Isaev, Tal Mahlev, Tal Sofer
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne, Meabh De Burca, Louise Quinn, Yvonne Tracy, Diane Caldwell, Ciara Grant (Marie Curtin), Sophie Perry, Fiona O'Sullivan, Shannon Smyth (Aine O'Gorman 46), Julie Russell, Denise O'Sullivan (Stephanie Roche). Unused substitute: Grace Moloney, Karen Duggan, Sara Lawlor, Rebecca Creagh.
Ref: Paloma Quintero Siles (Spain).
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