Wednesday 29 March 2017

Irish back in hunt as Ronan hails 'big scalp'

Portugal 1 Ireland 2

Sue Ronan believes her Ireland women’s side will be ready for top seeds Spain next month after seeing off their Iberian neighbours Portugal
Sue Ronan believes her Ireland women’s side will be ready for top seeds Spain next month after seeing off their Iberian neighbours Portugal

John Fallon

Sue Ronan believes her Ireland women's side will be ready for top seeds Spain next month after seeing off their Iberian neighbours Portugal.

After losing their opening qualifier to Finland last month, the swift response Ireland required was delivered in Moreira de Conegos as goals by Louise Quinn and Aine O'Gorman secured a precious three points.

Dashed dreams of a possible first-ever qualification for a major tournament threatened early on when the hosts gave their home support something to shout about by racing into a 16th-minute lead.

Still, Ronan's girls reversed the tie by the break and could have added more, albeit goalkeeper Emma Byrne was produced a couple of saves in the second half on her 120th cap.

Ireland welcome Spain, 2-1 victors over Finland in yesterday's other group fixture, to Tallaght Stadium on November 26 aware another good result would put them firmly on course to reach the 2017 finals in the Netherlands.

"Our players were very determined to eradicate the defeat to Finland," said Ronan. "The Portuguese will cause trouble to other teams in the group, so this win is a big scalp for us.

"We'll enjoy this win before concentrating on Spain. To get a draw off the top seeds would be a good result but we won't go into the game thinking that way."

Despite enjoying some early pressure, Ireland were caught cold from Portugal's first corner as a pinpoint cross from Sílvia Rebelo was guided past Byrne with a glancing header by Carole Costa. From another corner at the other end, Ireland equalised. Quinn's aerial power was utilised in a rehearsed set-piece which resulted in the defender powerfully heading home Katie McCabe's centre.

The Ireland comeback was completed by O'Gorman on 39 minutes when she nodded in after McCabe's effort was only parried by Patricia Morais into the path of the Irish striker.

Ireland - E Byrne (Arsenal); S Perry (Brighton), L Quinn (Eskilstuna), N Fahey (Chelsea), M Campbell (Florida State Univ.); R Littlejohn (Celtic), Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), D O'Sullivan (Glasgow City); JA Russell (UCD Waves), A O'Gorman (UCD Waves), K McCabe (Shelbourne).

Subs: D Caldwell (Avaldsness) for Duggan (33), S Roche (Sunderland) for Campbell (46), M De Burca (Galway) for McCabe (84)

Irish Independent

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