Slovakia 2 - 0 Republic of Ireland | 2015 - Senior Womens Friendlies | 999941528

Senior Women's Friendlies Istria Women's Cup, Umag / Croatia
Friday, March 6, 2015

Slovakia 2 - 0 Republic of Ireland

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Ireland pay price for defensive errors

Slovakia 2 Republic of Ireland 0
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6th Mar 2015

The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team paid the price for defensive errors when they lost to Slovakia in their Istria Cup Group A match in Umag.

Despite having the bulk of the possession and creating the better chances, the Irish were punished for defensive lapses in the second half when they were playing into a gale force wind as goals in the 51st and 72nd minute gave Slovakia victory.

Manager Sue Ronan is using the Istria Cup as part of her preparations for the European Championship qualifying campaign which will kick-off in September and is hoping to give game-time to all 21 players in the squad game. She made six personnel changes and four positional changes from the side which drew 1-1 with Hungary on Wednesday with only left-back Sophie Perry remaining in the same position.

Raheny United goalkeeper Niamh Reid Burke replaced Emma Byrne for her second cap and first start while Amazon Grimstad midfielder Emma Beckett made her debut.  Niamh Fahey, on her 54th appearance, was handed the captain’s armband for the first time and partnered Megan Campbell in the centre of defence with Meabh De Burca moving from central midfield to right back.  Ciara Grant joined Ruesha Littlejohn and Beckett in the engine room with Aine O’Gorman and Stephanie Roche on the flanks and Fiona O’Sullivan at centre-forward.

There was drama during the warm-ups when glass was found on the playing surface at Umag’s No.1 pitch so the match was moved to the No.4 pitch at the complex on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. That meant the wind now became a major factor as it was blowing straight down the pitch.

However, despite playing with the wind in the first 45 minutes, Ireland had nothing to show for another dominant performance at half-time. O’Gorman did bring out the very best in the Slovakian keeper Maria Korenciova after five minutes when her left foot shot was turned around the post. Fiona O’Sullivan and Stephanie Roche both went close before Ciara Grant shot wide with the goals at her mercy. Just before half-time O’Sullivan looked to be fouled in the area but she remained on her feet and shot wide under intense pressure from the Slovak defence.

Denise O’Sullivan replaced Littlejohn at half-time as the Irish adapted to playing into the gale force wind and they continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession as the Slovaks struggled with the wind.

However, six minutes into the second-half, the Slovaks were handed a gift when a series of defensive lapses culminated in Lucia Suskova blocking an attempted clearance by Campbell and Reid Burke was unable to get across her goal in time to stop the ball ricocheting into the net.  

Diane Caldwell and Julie Ann Russell were introduced for Beckett and Roche on 68 minutes as Ireland continued to chase the game but their task increased in magnitude four minutes later when a Reid-Burke’s attempt to punch away a curling shot from Veronika Klechova ended with the ball flying straight into the air and then bouncing into the roof of the net.

The Irish laid siege to the Slovak goal for the final 18 minutes, with Wexford Youth's Carol Breen coming on for her senior debut, but couldn’t break down a massed defence playing with a wind advantage although O’Gorman and Denise O’Sullivan both went close.

“It’s very disappointing to think that we have dominated two games in terms of possession and chances created yet only have one point to show for it.  However, the purpose of this week is to learn and we have learned valuable lessons that hopefully will serve us well in the future.  At this level you have got take your chances and you cannot give away soft goals or you get punished as we have done in two games.  So we’re all disappointed right now, but we will regroup over the next few days and be ready for Austria on Monday,” said Ronan.    

Republic of Ireland: Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United); Meabh De Burca (Galway WFC), Niamh Fahey (Chelsea), Megan Campbell (Florida State University), Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion); Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic), Emma Beckett (Amazon Grimstad), Ciara Grant (UCD Waves), Aine O'Gorman (UCD Waves),  Fiona O'Sullivan (Notts County), Stephanie Roche (Houston Dash). Subs: Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City for Littlejohn (46 mins), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes) for Beckett (68), Julie Ann Russell (UCD Waves) for Roche (68), Carol Breen (Wexford Youths Women’s AFC) for F O’Sullivan (80 mins). Unused Subs: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Lauren Dwyer (Raheny United), Megan Connolly (College Corinthians).

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Slovakia game vital says De Burca

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.
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5th Mar 2015

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 for tomorrow’s game is:

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

TEAM

P

W

D

L

F

A

PTS

GD

 Austria

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

 Hungary

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

 Ireland

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

 Slovakia

1

0

1

0

1

1

1

0

Ireland Fixtures

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).

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