Ireland Vs Netherlands
The toughest challenge of the Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign came in Tallaght last night when the European Champions came a calling to take on Ireland after Ireland managed to escape there last contest with the Dutch with a prized point. They were expecting a tough contest and by god the Dutch delivered a splendid performance build on a solid team performance where possession is king very reminiscent of the Dutch side of the 70s.
The Dutch scored two goals in the opening half with a goal from Lineth Beerensteyn and a penalty from team captain Sherida Spitse were enough to see the Dutch team home. The Irish side decided early on that they were happy to try and nick a goal on the break but the Dutch kept the ball and made this job extremely tough. Leanne Kiernan led the line and had the hard job of chasing down every ball that came into the Dutch half.
To this end Kiernan was assisted by Denise O Sullivan and Megan Connolly who worked hard to try and pick out the key pass that would unlock the defence and bring Ireland forward to try and lift the siege on the Irish goal. Ireland reverted to 5 across the back like they did in November 2017 with a three in the centre of the defence being Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell and Niamh Fahey. The full backs were Karen Duggan and Sophie Perry –Campbell .
Ireland went with O Sullivan , Mc Cabe and Connelly in the midfield with debutant Amy Boyle Carr being asked to sit in behind lone striker Leanne Kiernan and try a mop up the scraps that fell there way if any.
This game as was said in the build up was going to be very difficult and any sort of positive result was going to be a bonus but the Dutch showed why they are Champions in Europe by keeping the ball and teasing the Irish team to be pulled out of position and then they were able to get in behind the back four and trouble Marie Hourihan.
From an Irish perspective, they were intent on playing out from the back when they could and although they did use the long ball to try and relieve pressure they also kept the ball on the ground and tried to cause the Dutch some issues and also the tireless work of Denise O Sullivan and team skipper Katie Mc Cabe.
This performance may not have delivered the desired result but what Colin Bell is doing is admirable , he was shorn of a few key cogs and will hope to have them back in harness when Norway visit Dublin on June 8th before an away tie in Norway on June 12th.
They are still in a strong position to qualify for France 2019 and will now just rest the clock for two tough ties against Norway home and away. The support the girls in green over the last week was phenomenal and let’s hope that support does not desert them for the Norway game.
Players like Denise O Sullivan, Louise Quinn , Katie Mc Cabe and Megan Connelly are the star turns in this squad but all the players who are in and about the National side are working toward the ultimate goal of qualification for a major tournament under the guidance of Colin Bell who is in charge until 2021 at the very least , a good move by the FAI to tie him to a long term deal to build on the work of the last 12 months.
All the very best to all the squad who go back to club commitments, work and college before returning in June to face the next challenge of Norway….
Cian Mc Gibney