Irish women out to spoil French party
The French need a win to rubber-stamp their place at the 2013 UEFA Women's European Championship Finals in Sweden but could qualify if Scotland fail to beat Wales in Llanelli, a match that kicks-off 50 minutes beforehand.
The French women's team are very much the flavour of the month at the moment after their fourth place finishes in the 2011 World Cup in Germany and the 2012 London Olympics and that's been shown by the excitement that this fixture has generated.
Guingamp, the small town in Brittany where this match will be played, has a population of 8,000 people but its magnificent 18,000 seater Roudourou Stadium will be packed to capacity for the game and the kick-off has been changed to 7.50pm Irish time in order to facilitate Freench television who are showing contest live.
Today's edition of the French daily sports paper L'Equipe featured the French women on the front page and devoted four pages inside to the game.
The excitement is certainly justified as the French have won all six of their qualifying games so far conceding just two goals and scoring 23 in the process.
"They are a very good team, full of talent and quality and they have great strength in depth as well," said Ireland manager Sue Ronan.
"We played France at U19 level in 2005 in an elite qualifying group and six or seven of that squad are now in the senior squad. They were impressive then and are even more impressive now. They are all graduates of the Clairefontaine Academy and they are full-time athletes."
Ireland lost 3-1 to the French in Turner's Cross 12 months ago and ten of the players who started that night are in Ronan's squad for the return game including Aine O'Gorman who scored the Irish goal.
Goalkeeper Emma Byrne joined up with the squad this evening after completing a coach education course in England while Stephanie Roche who picked up a dead leg playing for Peamount United in the Bus Eireann National Women's League last weekend only resumed training today.
Ronan knows her side face a daunting task tomorrow against a team that is clearly the emerging force in European women's football but she says her players are all relishing the challenge.
"It's not going to be easy. We are very much the underdogs and will have to work very hard but we are going to enjoy the experience of playing at this level and see what happens."
After this game, the Irish travel to Israel for their final Group 4 game on Wednesday.
Republic of Ireland Senior Women's Squad: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Grace Moloney (Reading), Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal), Louise Quinn (Peamount United), Megan Campbell (Raheny United), Sophie Perry (Chelsea), Meabh de Burca (Amazon Grimstad), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Ciara Grant (Arsenal), Marie Curtin (FK Fortuna), Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United), Aine O'Gorman (Doncaster Belles), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Rebecca Creagh (Raheny United), Fiona O'Sullivan (SC Freiburg), Denise O'Sullivan (Cork Women's FC), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Sara Lawlor (Peamount United).