Senior Women's preparations continue
Sue Ronan’s preparations for next years Euro 2013 qualifiers, continued this weekend, with a ‘training match’ versus Northern Ireland in Banbridge, Co. Down. The squad consisting of all home-based players got together on Saturday evening for a training session, in which the Bus Eireann Women’s National League club coaches were in attendance for a coaches workshop, ahead of the start of the women’s league.
It’s evident for all to see that women’s soccer in Ireland is getting ever stronger, in last month’s qualifier against Israel there were 12 home-based players in the squad.
Both teams started slowly, however it was the Republic that had much of the early possession. Louise Quinn gaining in confidence with every game she’s played during the campaign to date, picked up the ball after breaking down a Northern Ireland attack. Quinn then picked out the run of Stephanie Roche, who laid it back for Megan Campbell to cross first time, finding the head of Denise O’Sullivan. The header was on target, but went straight into the hands of the Northern Ireland keeper.
The Republic had two further chances to take the lead when both Marie Curtin and Roche found themselves on the end of crosses but neither could find the power to put the ball beyond the keeper.
Northern Ireland created some half chances, with free kicks from wide right positions, but Niamh Reid Burke organised her defence well and was equal to everything thrown at her.
Just before half time Campbell’s long throw-in from the left found Roche who flicked on the ball to the perfectly timed run of O’Sullivan. Her powerful header, found the top corner giving the Republic a much deserved 1-0 lead.
Into the second half and Ronan made full use of the squad, making 5 changes at the interval. Emma Mullin, Noelle Murray, Kerri Ryan, Ciara Grant and goalkeeper Hannah Tyrell all coming into the fray.
As the game progressed the passing became sharper and quick switching of play created some good opportunities.
Ruth Fahy and Rebecca Creagh both made their appearance shortly into the second half. However despite all the changes, the Republic remained composed and didn’t lose focus on the style of play and intensity shown in the first half.
Stephanie Roche now playing wide on the left was proving to be a nuisance for the full back, as she continually created space to whip in crosses, putting Northern Ireland’s defence under continuous pressure. The best of which was a teasing ball into the box, in which the keeper came for, but Emma Mullin reacted quickest to get there ahead of the keeper. Unfortunately the angle proved too tight for Mullin to get her shot on target.
Moments later Sophie Perry won the ball from a poor clearance by the N. Ireland keeper and released Roche on the left. Roche’s through ball for Mullin saw her first time shot well saved by the keeper.
The Republic’s defence dealt with any pressure from Northern Ireland quite comfortably, keeping good possession and moving the ball from right to left quickly to stretch N. Ireland.
Manager Sue Ronan was delighted with the performance: ’Games like these are a great opportunity for me to give experience to fringe players and indeed extra games at the top-level to our home-based players. I was pleased with how the game went – after a slow start, the players grew in stature and even though we only won 1 nil, we totally dominated possession and N. Ireland posed very little danger to our goal.