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Ireland's women pay the penalty and suffer narrow loss in first of two games against Portugal

Missing a number of regulars, Colin Bell gave some youngsters their chance to impress.

MANAGER COLIN BELL admitted his Republic of Ireland side didn’t perform to the levels he expected them to after a narrow 1-0 defeat to Portugal in Azores this evening.

In the first of two friendlies against the same opposition over four days, it was a Dolores Silva penalty on the hour mark that proved the difference.

Without a number of first-choice players, Bell gave some youngsters a chance to impress.

Galway WFC defender Aislinn Meaney was handed a senior international debut while 17-year-old Peamount attacker Heather Payne made a first senior start.

And Payne had Ireland’s best chance of the opening period but failed to hit the target from close range after good work from captain Katie McCabe and Amber Barrett.

After a cagey first-half, the home side hit the front when Andreia Norton was brought down in the area by 16-year-old Tyler Toland.

Silva, the Portuguese skipper, made little mistake from the penalty spot.

“We’re disappointed,” Bell said afterwards.

I thought we were a bit flat tonight and didn’t perform to the levels I know we can perform to. It was a silly goal to give away as all we had to do was clear the ball but instead, we let them come back inside with it and we give away a penalty. If that doesn’t happen, there is no way we’re conceding a goal from open play so that’s really disappointing.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the rest of the week before Sunday’s second match. I want to see the levels improve and we’ll have to look at the starting line-up for that game.

“Of course, we’re already missing five key players due to injuries, who would be in our first-team, so we’ve got a number of young players in the squad. We’ll have to check the fitness of the players and have a look in training before making a decision.”

Republic of Ireland XI: Hourihan, Meaney (Kiernan 70), Caldwell, Quinn, Fahey, Scott, Toland (O’Riordan 87), O’Sullivan, McCabe (C), Payne, Barrett (Littlejohn 81).

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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