DREAMS of World Cup glory for the Girls in Green are over as the U17 women's side bowed out of the contest following defeat to Japan.
The Republic of Ireland team were knocked out in the quarter-final stage in Trinidad last night.
The girls were evenly matched to a strong Japanese team but heartbreak began when Canadian referee Michelle Pye gifted a penalty to Japan in the 34th minute which was duly converted by Hikaru Maomoto.
Ireland hit back with an equaliser from Denise O'Sullivan, but the Japanese women proved to be too strong and scored again to send Japan into the World Cup semi-final.
Ireland came agonisingly close to the equaliser in the 81st minute but the dream is over for another season and the U17 team began their long journey home after a tremendous World Cup campaign.
The Girls in Green have already secured their place in the history books; it's the first time Ireland qualified for a women's World Cup finals and the team went on to be listed as one of the last eight teams in the competition.
Earlier in the summer they were beaten finalists in the European Championships after overcoming the highly-rated Germans in the semi-finals.
Friends and family of the only Dublin player on the team, Siobhan Killeen, all gathered in Raheny Football Club to cheer on the team last night.
The Raheny FC midfielder, who scored two goals in the tournament against Brazil and Canada, said that the girls were heartbroken after the defeat.
"We're all obviously devastated at missing out on the semi-finals after coming so close against Japan," she told the Herald.
"Japan were world class but I really thought that we could have beaten them to claim a place in the semi."
Noel King's side, whose flight home from Turkey was delayed by volcanic ash during the summer, are now making preparations for their travel back to a rapturous welcome home.
"What is upsetting is the fact that we are all leaving each other to go our separate ways," Siobhan said.
"We have been together for so long and we have created great friendships with everybody in the team and I hope that we are able to come together again and follow up our success in another World Cup very soon.
"Obviously my favourite moment of the tournament was scoring our first ever World Cup goal against Brazil, to score against a team of Brazil's stature was indescribable," she added.
Meanwhile, manager Noel spoke in glowing terms about the industrious efforts of his squad over the campaign.
"I could not be prouder of the team's performances in the World Cup," he said.
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