Photo Credit: Jason O’Callaghan
The Republic of Ireland Women’s team manager, Sue Ronan is looking to build on the performances shown in June against Croatia and Russia when her side take on Slovenia in a World Cup qualifying game at Tallaght Stadium on Wednesday night.
A 1-0 win at home against the Croatians and a 0-0 away to Russia helped keep the “Girls in Green” in contention for a play-off spot. They will need to win on Wednesday night to keep that dream alive. Ronan knows that despite victory in the reverse fixture, the Slovenians will be no pushover.
“We deserved to win against Croatia even though it was a tough game and our draw away to Russia could easily have been a win so we want to build on those results next week against Slovenia. We played them away last October and I still believe that was our best overall attacking display and we comfortably won 3-0. However, this is a new game and I expect it to be another tough one for us,” said Ronan.
There is some positive team news with defender Seana Cooke returning to the squad after an 11 month absence through injury. Reading’s Grace Moloney has also been drafted into the squad as a third choice goalkeeper. They replace Raheny United’s Rachel Graham and the American-based defender Mary Therese McDonnell. Millwall’s Sophie Perry, who was forced to withdraw from the games in June against Croatia and Russia after suffering concussion in a club game, is also included.
There are places in the squad for veteran players, Emma Byrne (captain), Niamh Fahey and Aine O’Gorman. Denise O’Sullivan, who scored the winner against Croatia in June, also has a place in the squad of 20.
Furthermore, Ronan stated her intentions to invite some of the members of the successful U19 squad, who reached last month’s UEFA European Championship semi-finals, to train with the senior squad next week.
“I was in Norway and there are a few of them on my radar. Some of the U19 squad, like Clare Shine, were with us in La Manga in January while five more were part of the squad I took to Spain to play the Basque Country in May. Unfortunately, there is no U21 grade in women’s football so it is a big jump from U19 to senior international football but we have managed to bring through a lot of the U17 squad from 2010 over the last few years and we will be hoping to do the same with the U19s. What they achieved was tremendous and it is exciting to think that 12 of the squad are underage next year,” said Ronan.
With three games left in Group 1, the Irish are five points behind second placed Russia and 13 points behind group leaders, Germany. They have a game in hand over their German counterparts. The Irish will need the Russians to slip up in their future fixtures against Slovakia, Croatia and Germany, win their remaining fixtures and hope that they can manage to rank as one of the top four best second placed teams. No tall task for the Irish team.
The game on Wednesday night will be the last home game of the campaign and the team will undoubtedly be looking to finish the home portion of the qualifiers on a high before travelling to Slovakia and Germany in September to complete a year-long effort to book their plane tickets to Canada next year.
Kick-off for the game at Tallaght Stadium is 7:30pm and admission is €5 for adults and €2 for students and U16s.