Defeat for Ireland in Cyprus Cup opener
The goals, which came in either half, proved decisive as the Irish failed to convert their majority share of the possession into goals although they did hit the woodwork and had a goal disallowed.
Manager Sue Ronan handed Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney her senior debut, one day after she celebrated her 23rd birthday, and the former under-age international didn’t disappoint with an assured performance that culminated in a vital second half save. Moloney, who came in for Emma Byrne, was one of four changes from the side which lost to world champions USA in San Diego in January with Jessica Gleeson, Julie-Ann Russell and Niamh Fahey replacing Diane Caldwell, Ruesha Littlejohn and Stephanie Roche.
Ireland started brightly with a high pressing game frustrating the Austrians and Julie-Ann Russell almost opened the scoring in the 10th minute when her 20 yard shot crashed off the crossbar. Six minutes later Louise Quinn rose to meet a Russell corner but her header was straight at Manuela Zinsberger.
The opening goal came against the run of play after 20 minutes when Verena Aschauer pounced on a mistake in the Irish defence and fired the loose ball past debutant goalkeeper Grace Moloney from close range.
The Irish responded positively to that setback and Megan Campbell had a goalbound 25 yard piledriver deflected for a corner while Katie McCabe sent another long range effort whistling past the post.
The Irish continued to dominate after half-time but were rocked on 54 minutes when the Austrians added a second, again against the run of play. A through ball saw Nina Burger beat the offside trap and she broke from the halfway line before rounding Moloney to score.
From then until the final whistle the Irish continued to press and substitute Diane Caldwell brought out the best in Zinsberger who produced a spectacular save to keep out her long range shot. Caldwell did manage to get the ball in the net three minutes into injury time but her well taken goal was disallowed for offside.
In addition to Moloney, 18-year-old defender Savannah McCarthy also made her senior debut during the game when she came on as a substitute for Megan Campbell.
After the game, Ireland manager Sue Ronan admitted she had mixed emotions.
“We’re again in a situation where we’ve played really well, yet lost the game,” said Ronan “We frustrated Austria from the kick-off by not allowing them to build-up from their goalkeeper, instead forcing her to kick long, something you could see their team were not totally comfortable with. On many occasions, particularly in the first 15 to 20 minutes, we won the ball high up the pitch and were unlucky not to score. Unfortunately, as has been the case in recent games, we really should have dealt better with the attack that led to their first goal and their second one was another individual error, so a harsh lesson again for my players. Having said that, I was really pleased with some of our passages of play and indeed how we dealt with Austria’s attack on other occasions, so more positives to take forward to the competitive games next month.”
Republic of Ireland: Grace Moloney (Reading); Sophie Perry (Brighton & Hove Albion), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Jessica Gleeson (Wexford Youths), Megan Campbell Manchester City); Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Niamh Fahey (Chelsea), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City); Julie-Ann Russell (UCD Waves), Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Katie McCabe (Arsenal). Subs: Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City) for O’Sullivan (46), Clare Shine (Glasgow City) for McCabe , Diane Caldwell (Kóln) for Fahey (68), Megan Connolly (Florida State University) for Russell (75), Savannah McCarthy (Glasgow City) for Campbell (86). Used Subs: Niamh Reid-Burke (Shelbourne), Meabh De Burca (Galway), Emma Hansberry (Wexford Youths), Rachel Graham (Shelbourne), Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths), Claire O’Riordan (Wexford Youths).