Ireland lose to Hungary at Cyprus Cup
A 76th minute goal, completely against the run of play, from a free-kick by Hungary’s Viktoria Szabo proved to be decisive.
The Irish spurned a chance to share the spoils when striker Megan Connolly, on her 19th birthday, blasted a penalty over the crossbar three minutes later.
The Irish will now play EURO 2017 opponents Finland in the play-off for seventh and eighth place on Wednesday.
Manager Sue Ronan made four changes from the side that started the 1-1 draw with Italy last Friday with Emma Byrne, Meabh De Burca, Rachel Graham and Katie McCabe coming in for Niamh Reid Burke, Sophie Perry, Niamh Fahey and Diane Caldwell.
It took Ireland some time to settle into the game but once they got moving they soon started creating chances and after 11 minutes Rachel Graham fired just over from outside the box after being teed up by Megan Connolly. Ruesha Littlejohn then failed to connect properly with a Katie McCabe pass while Julie-Ann Russell curled a shot past the far post after a short corner with Megan Connolly.
Hungary had one good chance in the first half when a 41st minute free kick by Alexandra Szarvas slid past Emma Byrne’s left hand post.
The second half was completey dominated by Ireland wth half-time substitute Denise O’Sullvian proving a major threat and defensive midfielder Karen Duggan ensuring the Hungarians were pinned into their own half for long periods.
After 47 minutes O’Sullivan forced Hungarian goalkeeper Sxocs Reka into the save of the match while Aine O’Gorman, Ruesha Littlejohn and Katie McCabe all had efforts that went close.
Disaster struck for Ireland in the 76th minute when, in their first attack of the half, Hungary scored. A deep free kick from Viktoria Szabo appeared to be head for the safety of Byrne’s hands when the ball spun out of her grasp and into the empty net to give the Hungarians a shock lead.
Minuites later they almost extended their lead but Byrne produced a great bock to deny Henrietta Csiszar as she bore down on goal.
The Irish were thrown a lifeline in the 79th minute when Katie McCabe was taken down by a reckless challenge from the goalkeeper. The resultanty penalty was taken by Megan Connollhy but, although she sent Reka the wrong way, she sent her shot over the crossbar.
Despite laying siege to the Hungarian goal for the remainder of the game, Ireland were unable to force an equaliser with Reka saving shots from O’Gorman and connolly late on as the Hungarians held on for victory.
Wexford Youths duo Emma Hansberry and Claire O’Riordan made their senior international debuts when introduced as second half substitutes.
After the game Ireland manager Sue Ronan admitted it was hard to explain how her side had failed to get anything out of a game they had emphatically dominated.
“Some of our attacking play was excellent tonight and I can’t fault any of my players for their work-rate and energy, but once again it was a case of not taking any of the numerous chances we created and then conceding a soft goal. The players are very disappointed right now, but we’ll regroup tomorrow and take the positives from tonight, of which there were many, into our next game,” said Ronan.
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne (Arsenal); Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Savannah McCarthy (Glasgow City), Meabh De Burca (Galway); Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Rachel Graham (Shelbourne); Julie-Ann Russell (UCD Waves), Megan Connolly (Florida State University), Katie McCabe (Arsenal). Subs Used: Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City) for Graham (46 mins), Niamh Fahey (Chelsea) for Quinn (46 mins), Emma Hansberry (Wexford Youths) for Littlejohn (79 mins), Claire O’Riordan (Wexford Youths) for McCabe (86 mins). Unused subs: Niamh Reid Burke (Shelbourne), Grace Moloney (Reading), Jessica Gleeson (Wexford Youths), Diane Caldwell (Koln), Clare Shine (Glasgow City).