Ronan names Women's National Team squad for World Cup opener
Republic of Ireland Women's National Team manager Sue Ronan today announced a squad of 20 players for her side's opening FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying game against Slovakia on Sunday, September 22, in the Carlisle Grounds, Bray, at 1pm. Ronan will reduce it to 18 for the away trip to Croatia on Thursday, September 26.
The squad shows two changes from the one named prior to the June 18 friendly against Austria. Dora Gorman, who actually played in that game after receiving a late call-up, is included along with Shannon Smyth. They come for Marie Therese McDonnell and Shannon McDonnell.
Since the European Championship qualifying campaign ended last September, Ronan has been busy preparing for the World Cup qualifiers and her side have played seven matches over the last nine months. After back to back defeats to Olympic champions and World No.1 USA last December, the side finished eighth at the Cyprus Cup in March with wins over Northern Ireland and South Africa, a draw with World No.16 South Korea and a narrow 0-1 defeat to World No.19 Finland. They followed that with a 2-2 draw against Austria and many of the players were also involved in the World Student Games in July where Ireland, managed by Ronan, finished in an impressive sixth overall.
"The preparations have been good and we've tried to use the games to look at players, work out what our best team is and assess the various options at our disposal. I think we now have a very strong pool of players to call on, which has been helped greatly by the introduction of the Bus Éireann Women's National League, and we are looking to improve on our performance in the European Championship," said Ronan, who made the announcement at Gannon Park, Malahide.
Ireland have been drawn in Group 1 for the World Cup qualifying campaign along with European champions and World No.2 Germany, Euro '13 finalists Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia.
"It's a tough group but we are determined to give it our best shot. Only the winners go through automatically to the finals while the runners-up will go into play-offs for just one remaining place so it's not going to be easy to get to Canada but we will be going out trying to win every game and see what happens," said Ronan.
Goalkeeper and captain Emma Byrne will become only the second woman, and seventh player, to win 100 caps at senior international level for Ireland if she plays against both Slovakia and Croatia and Ronan said it will be a deserved milestone.
"Emma fully deserves to be part of that special group as she has been a tremendous servant and a great role model. I have no doubt that she will eventually surpass her good friend and Arsenal team-mate Ciara Grant as our most capped woman player," said Ronan.
The Ireland team will assemble in Dunboyne, Co Meath, on Tuesday, September 17 to prepare for the games against Slovakia and Croatia.
Republic of Ireland Women's National Team Squad v Slovakia (September 22, 2013)
EMMA BYRNE (Arsenal), EVE BADANA (Drexel University), SEANA COOKE (Raheny United), YVONNE TRACY (Arsenal), MEGAN CAMPBELL (Raheny United), SOPHIE PERRY (Brighton & Hove Albion), MEABH DE BURCA (Eskilstuna United), LOUISE QUINN (Eskilstuna United), DIANE CALDWELL (Avaldsness), JULIE ANN RUSSELL (Peamount United), CIARA GRANT (Raheny United), KAREN DUGGAN (Peamount United), RACHEL GRAHAM (Raheny United), SHANNON SMYTH (Amazon Grimstad), DORA GORMAN (Peamount United), FIONA O'SULLIVAN (SC Frieburg), DENISE O'SULLIVAN (Glasgow City), SARA LAWLOR (Peamount United), RUESHA LITTLEJOHN (Glasgow City), AINE O'GORMAN (Peamount United).
For the game against Croatia on September 26, this squad will be reduced to 18 players following the match against Slovakia.
Ireland's FIFA World Cup Group 1 Schedule
September 22, 2013: Republic of Republic of Ireland v Slovakia
September 26, 2013: Croatia v Republic of Ireland
October 30 2013: Slovenia v Republic of Ireland
April 5, 2014: Republic of Ireland v Germany
May 7, 2014: Republic of Ireland v Russia
June 14, 2014: Republic of Ireland v Croatia
June 19, 2014: Russia v Republic of Ireland
August 20, 2014: Republic of Ireland v Slovenia
September 13, 2014: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland
September 17, 2014: Germany v Republic of Ireland