Skipper Byrne happy with Cyprus Cup performance

Skipper Byrne happy with Cyprus Cup performance

The Republic of Ireland Senior Women's Team arrived home from the Cyprus Cup this afternoon with captain Emma Byrne expressing her delight at how the week had gone.
14th Mar 2013

The Republic of Ireland Senior Women's Team arrived home from the Cyprus Cup this afternoon with captain Emma Byrne expressing her delight at how the week had gone.

Ireland finished eight out of the 12 teams participating in the tournament which was won by England who defeated Canada 1-0 in yesterday's final.

Along the way Ireland had some notable achievements with their 5-1 win over Northern Ireland being their biggest in nine years while the 2-0 win over South Africa gave them back to back wins for the first time since 2007.

A scoreless draw with World No.16 South Korea not only meant that Ireland won Group C but also saw the team go unbeaten in three games for the first time since 2004 and keep two consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2006.

Finland finally brought those various runs to an end on Wednesday with a 1-0 win to take seventh place but the Irish left Paralimni feeling they should have won against the world's No 19 ranked side and they certainly won't fear the European Championship finalists if they draw them in next month's FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Byrne was named as team captain ahead of the tournament in succession to Arsenal team-mate Ciara Grant who decided to retire from international football at the age of 34 and after a record 105 appearances. The goalkeeper found herself thrown in at the deep end as Sue Ronan was forced through injuries, withdrawals and retirements to name an inexperienced squad with six uncapped players and only six with 20 or more caps.

"It was brilliant," said Byrne. "Although we were very disappointed to lose to Finland and felt we should have beaten them, it was still a great week and has probably given Sue a few selection headaches. I was a bit apprehensive before-hand especially as we were missing so many big-hitters like Fiona O'Sullivan, Sophie Perry and Ciara Grant but the young players who came in were really good and everybody gelled together so well. Denise O'Sullivan was the best midfielder on the pitch in all four games we played and is a really exciting talent.

"It was great to get a high score in the first game against Northern Ireland because that gave everybody a lift especially as four of the girls scored for the first time at senior level. We have spent a lot of time recently working on the defensive side of our game so it was nice to focus on attacking play and for it to work so well.

"The game against South Korea was a great test and we did very well against a good side but we didn't play as well as we can against Finland and we gave away a sloppy goal so that was disappointing because I felt we were the better team."

Although Byrne captained the team in America last December, this was her first outing since being given the armband permanently and she admitted she enjoyed the role up to a point.

"I love the pitch part of the job, leading the team out, doing the toss and being like a mother-figure to the other players,. I didn't like having to know all the times of things we were doing or choosing what to wear each that. I think I'll have to delegate that bit next time," quipped Byrne who admitted that she looking forward to leading the team out at Tallaght on June 18 when Ireland plays Austria

"That will be a brilliant moment to lead the team out in front of my family and friends," said Byrne.

Before that, Byrne will be back on duty with Arsenal as they face Italian side Torres in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women's Champions League next week.