Portugal 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland | 2018 - Senior Womens Friendlies | 999944357

Senior Women's Friendlies International Friendly | Estadio San Miguel, The Azores, Portugal
Thursday, January 18, 2018

Portugal 1 - 0 Republic of Ireland

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Ireland WNT: Friendly Portugal defeat after Silva penalty

Republic of Ireland Women's National Team suffered a narrow defeat to Portugal in the first of two international friendlies in the Azores this week.
18th Jan 2018

Dolores Silva's second-half penalty separated the two sides as the hosts claimed victory ahead of the second friendly on Sunday, January 21st.

Colin Bell handed Galway WFC defender Aislinn Meaney her senior international debut and also awarded Peamount United forward Heather Payne with her first start for the senior side after an impressive 2017 in the Continental Tyres Women's National League.

It was Payne who Ireland's only chance of the opening 45 minutes. Captain Katie McCabe found the industrious Amber Barrett on the right and after creating space, her low cross to the edge of the six-yard area was put narrowly over the bar by Payne. 

The hosts created very little in a quiet first-half but went ahead with 14 minutes gone after the break after Andreia Norton was brought down in the area by Tyler Toland. Captain Dolores Silva stepped up and found the right-hand corner, despite the best efforts of Marie Hourihan. 

Colin Bell brought on Leanne Kiernan, Ruesha Littelejohn and Claire O'Riordan but struggled to create any goal-scoring chances against a resolute Portuguese defence. Tatiana Pinto fired narrowly over the bar in the final minutes of the game as the hosts claim victory in the first of two international friendlies this week.

Republic of Ireland WNT Head Coach Colin Bell said: "We’re disappointed. I thought we were a bit flat tonight and didn’t perform to the levels I know we can perform to.

“It was a silly goal to give away as all we had to do was clear the ball but instead, we let them come back inside with it and we give away a penalty. If that doesn’t happen, there is no way we’re conceding a goal from open play so that’s really disappointing.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the rest of the week before Sunday’s second match. I want to see the levels improve and we’ll have to look at the starting line-up for that game. 

“Of course, we’re already missing five key players due to injuries, who would be in our first-team, so we’ve got a number of young players in the squad. We’ll have to check the fitness of the players and have a look in training before making a decision.”

Republic of Ireland: Hourihan (GK), Meaney (Kiernan 70), Caldwell, Quinn, Fahey, Scott, Toland (O'Riordan 87), O'Sullivan, McCabe (C), Payne, Barrett (Littlejohn 81).

Ireland WNT: Kiernan looking forward to positive 2018

Republic of Ireland Women's National Team striker Leanne Kiernan played a major part in a positive ending to 2017, and wants to help build a positive 2018.
17th Jan 2018

The WNT are currently in the Azores ahead of two friendly international games against Portugal this week. The first fixture will take place tomorrow at 7pm (6pm local time) as Colin Bell's Ireland side look to start the New Year with a positive result. 

Ireland are currently unbeaten in their FIFA 2019 World Cup qualifying campaign after their impressive 0-0 draw in the Netherlands in November and will continue their campaign in April against Slovakia at Tallaght Stadium. 

Kiernan played a major role in the draw against the Netherlands, coming on in the second-half, and she believes the WNT can continue that form in 2018, starting with tomorrow's game against Portugal. 

The Shelbourne Ladies striker said: "It was a fantastic year for the team and I was delighted to be a part of it. 

"To end the year with the result against the Netherlands was fantastic and a real confidence boost to the whole team. It shows we can get results against the best teams and that we're right in the qualifying campaign.

"It's important we continue that form into this year and these two games against Portugal will be a great test. It was a long trip out here but we're all looking forward to getting back on the pitch tomorrow."

Colin Bell named three Women's Under-17 internationals in his squad for the two games as Zara Foley, Amy Boyle-Carr and Eabha O'Mahony were all included in the senior squad for the first time.

All three could make their senior international debuts this week and ahead of tomorrow's game, Kiernan has backed the youngsters in the squad and has praised the quality on show in training.

Kiernan added: "It's great to see the young ones coming up into the senior squad and getting the chance to impress. 

"The standard in training has been extremely good and they've really impressed. It really shows there is plenty of young talent coming through in Ireland and that is really good for the future.

"It will be a difficult game tomorrow as they were at the European Championships ahead of us but we need to be testing ourselves against the best to keep improving. 

"We've got two crucial games in April and these games will be really important for us to continue what has been an excellent qualifying campaign so far."

TEAM NEWS: Karen Duggan and Sophie Perry have both pulled out of the squad through injury and have been replaced by Ruesha Littlejohn and Claire O'Riordan.