| 4.1°C Dublin

Ireland target Scottish victory to keep hopes alive


GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI'S Euro 2012 strugglers weren't the only Irish team engaged in soul searching over the weekend.

Defeat at Turner's Cross for Sue Ronan's team shifts control of their play-off prospects beyond their grasp into the hands of Scotland, whom they must beat on Thursday in Cork to get back into the hunt.

With France on the brink of securing top spot in Group 4, results against Wales and Scotland are imperative for Ireland if they're to finish second and claim a play-off route into next year's European Championships in Sweden.

This loss to the Welsh, a team they had defeated 2-0 away last September, was all the more disappointing due to the way they dominated play.

Still, there was no excusing the sloppy defending which led to the visitors' goal on 71 minutes. Left-back Sophie Ingle lofted a high ball which caught the Irish defence square, allowing her Chelsea colleague Helen Lander to race clear and hoist the ball over the advancing Emma Byrne.

Ronan's side had missed a litany of chances, two from local teenager Denise O'Sullivan in the first half and another sitter by Michelle O'Brien a minute before the Wales goal.

Substitute Stephanie Roche looked to have rescued a point in stoppage-time when her header flew towards the net, but Nicola Davis got her fingertips to it.

Ireland skipper Ciara Grant, winning her 102nd cap, admitted her side's European dream will vanish this week unless they can regain a winning habit. "We only started to play well today after conceding and that's not good enough," she said.

IRELAND -- E Byrne (Arsenal); S Perry (Chelsea), L Quinn (Peamount United), Y Tracy (Arsenal), M Campbell (Raheny United); S Smyth (Amazon Grimstad FK) C Grant (Arsenal), M O'Brien (Chicago Red Eleven); A O'Gorman (Doncaster Belles), D O'Sullivan (Cork), JA Russell (Doncaster Belles). Subs: R Littlejohn (Liverpool) for O'Brien (71), C Khassal (Wexford) for Russell (76), S Roche (Peamount United) for Smyth (86)

WALES -- N Davies (Liverpool); A James (Arsenal), K Davies (Chelsea), N Jones (Cardiff), S Ingle (Chelsea); S Witshire (Watford), MGreen (Bristol), N Harding (Bristol), J Fishlock (Bristol Academy); H Lander (Chelsea), G Harries (Everton). Subs: H Keryakopolis (Liverpool) for Harding (60 ), L Price (Cardiff) for Wiltshire, S Wade (Barnet) for Green (both 88).

REF -- Sophie Karagiorgi (CYP).

Irish Independent