REPORT | WU17 | Finland 2-3 Ireland
Goals from Shelbourne’s Aoife Kelly, Shamrock Rovers’ Ruby Gallagher and Donegal Women’s League’s Jodie Loughrey helped Ireland secure the win and bounce back from their disappointing 1-0 loss to Austria in the opening game of the campaign.
The Irish started brightly and they took the lead with just 10 minutes on the clock thanks to Kelly, who cleverly stabbed Loughrey’s dangerous free kick past the goalkeeper at her near post.
Buoyed by that finish, Ireland continued to control proceedings and they deservedly doubled their lead just shy of the half an hour mark.
Only Gallagher will know if she meant it but either way, her cross or her shot from the right wing completely caught the Finland number one off guard and the ball flew into the roof of her net.
But the Finnish, to their credit, refused to let their heads drop and they halved the deficit just six minutes later when striker Steffi Hassinen raced onto a smart quick throw before firing past Keane from inside the penalty area.
James Scott’s side quickly regrouped though and they restored their two-goal advantage shortly before the half time break when Loughrey poked the ball home from a couple of yards out after Aoibhe Flemming’s initial header from a corner was blocked on the line.
A tame second period would follow that enthralling first as Ireland kept possession in an effort to just see out the game.
They would do just that but not without suffering a couple of late scares as Hassinen would hit the far right post when through one on one with the keeper before captain Milja Kiviranta blasted the ball into the top left corner from the penalty spot with eight minutes remaining.
But the Republic would hang on to the three points and their attention now turns to their decisive next match on Thursday afternoon against host nation and neighbours Northern Ireland in Seaview with kick-off set for 2 pm.
Finland: Roine; Heikkinen, Lahikainen, Turkia, Kouva (Mare 80); Nurmi (Sarelius 46), Kiviranta, Jahnukainen (Ljesnjanin ht), Ratts (Laiho ht); Holmstrom (Aho 80), Hassinen.
Republic of Ireland: Keane; Turner, Flemming, Kelly, Sena; Fitzgerald, Hannah Healy (Freya Healy 79), Dolan; Gallagher (Bradley 69), Ralph (Berging 79), Loughrey.
Referee: Silvia Gasperotti (Italy)