Ireland 3 Australia 2
Sometimes even just a passport can be worth its weight in goals.
It may have taken Lucy Quinn five years to finally get the green light to play for Ireland, but it only took her three minutes to make a spectacular breakthrough for her adopted land.
Technically, she didn’t score a goal on a crazy night of deflected efforts, but there is surely the promise of many to come after an encouraging 72-minute debut happily coincided with a positive result to end a horrendous losing streak.
And even her presence seemed to inspire her once impotent team-mates; they scored more goals in 50 minutes here than they had in seven matches.
Lucy has some way to go to match another mighty Quinn, Louise, who extended her international tally to 12 with her 50th-minute winner after a first half of four deflected goals.
And two late blocks confirmed the end of her side’s 18-month winless streak, and only the third win in 11 matches for manager Vera Pauw.
The Dutch woman has been searching incessantly for a solution to her striking roles but, as the 27-year-old stunned the Olympic semi-finalists with a devilishly curling free-kick, a side who had failed to score in five of their previous seven matches had suddenly struck gold.
With antecedents from Sligo, Quinn had long sought a solution which would provide her with a pathway to play for her adopted land, but a series of complications had stymied her at every turn.
Ireland, whose inability to convert cost them the chance to appear in next summer’s showpiece European Championships in England, can only lament the many obstructions which have delayed her international bow.
She will, sadly, not be credited with her third-minute free-kick; one which she herself had won with her second touch, after her first touch prompted a mad dash and cross down the right-hand side.
The novelty of her sparkling debut was matched by the prospect of Ireland having the upper hand against a leading nation, watched by 3,341 eager locals.
The feeling didn’t last too long and was, ironically and inconveniently, undone by a girl from Ballymun, Mary Fowler, who evaded the FAI’s clutches even though her two brothers, who have featured underage for Ireland, did not.
Fowler’s third goal for her country was a doozie; a reasonably struck effort but one hit straight at Courtney Brosnan, who, were she a fielder for the visiting cricket side, would be cast to the ropes in the future.
She was fitful thereafter, mixing decent saves with aerial errors, and Pauw’s pre-match assertion that she was on equal footing with Grace Moloney seemed at odds with recent form.
It didn’t seem to matter much, though, especially when Ireland regained the lead in the 15th minute, Australia unable to deal with captain Katie McCabe’s corner, Denise O’Sullivan’s volleyed effort caroming off the hapless Kyra Cooney-Cross, leaving netminder Mackenzie Arnold despairing once more.
There was a surfeit of friendly international space and both sides enjoyed surfing the terrain in an often madcap affair.
Ireland were benefiting from a system which advanced their players more, even if the Australians allowed them room to do so, and also ensured that their opponents were not rampant in possession either.
Australia also made chances at will, but even when they managed to evade Brosnan, Savannah McCarthy, returning to the side after a five-year absence, and in a novel back three, was on hand to twice deny Sam Kerr and Emily Gielnik.
McCarthy’s half ended in calamity though; a weak headed clearance allowing Fowler to size up another shot on goal, which ended up veering into the net off the luckless defender’s left thigh.
It was an expensive lesson for the defender preferred to Diane Caldwell in what Pauw had asserted was her strongest side, despite all the absentees.
Louise Quinn remains a durable presence, buoyed by her return to England after an unhappy spell in Italy, she nabbed a trademark set-piece header just moments after the break to restore the lead for a third time.
All the while, a fitful Kerr struggled to make this game memorable for anything else apart from the Chelsea star’s 100th cap and a yellow card for petulantly kicking the ball away.
Fowler, just 18, was her side’s shining light.
Ireland may have lost her but may now have unearthed another of their own.
Better late than never.
Ireland – Brosnan; O’Gorman, Fahey, Louise Quinn, McCarthy, McCabe; O’Sullivan, Finn (Caldwell 90), Barrett (Farrelly 60); Payne (Kiernan 90), Lucy Quinn (Whelan 72).
Australia – Arnold (Williams h-t); Polkinghorne, Kennedy (Checker h-t), Nevin (Beard 69); Yallop (Grant 68), Logarzo (Wheeler 53), Cooney-Cross, Catley; Gielnik, Kerr, Fowler.
Referee – Paula Brady.