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'It was shocking - it was probably the worst goal I've conceded for Ireland'

Ireland slipped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat last night.

Byrne is caught out by the deflected effort.
Byrne is caught out by the deflected effort.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND GOALKEEPER EMMA Byrne admits she was at fault for the concession of her side’s first goal during last night’s disappointing Euro 2017 qualifying defeat to Finland.

Sue Ronan’s charges started the new campaign with a renewed sense of optimism after an encouraging year but slipped to a 2-0 reversal in Tallaght on Monday evening.

After beginning to settle into the contest, Ireland found themselves behind after just 13 minutes when Emma Koivisto’s cross-come-shot deflected off Sophie Perry and looped over Byrne.

It was a setback the hosts never really recovered from and despite knocking on the door with some enterprising build-up play, Ireland conceded again midway through the second-half.

Afterwards, the Arsenal goalkeeper took full responsibility for the game’s turning point and conceded she should have dealt with it better.

“It was shocking,” she said. “It was probably one of the worst goals I’ve conceded for Ireland, very disappointing.

“I seemed to have too much time and I’m not good with time – give me a reaction save and I’m much better but I had it in the air the whole time and then just lost it at the last second.

“It looked very easy, had too much time to think about catching it or deflecting it over and I did neither.

“She was going to shoot on goal and it got a little deflection but I still had time to react and get in position but it was a complete error in judgement by me – my fault.”

Ireland enjoyed their best period of possession after the interval as they pressed for an equaliser but Byrne, who is one of the senior players in the squad, revealed confidence remains brittle.

“Goals change games, no more so at international level and it’s a big blow to a team like this when we concede.

Finland celebrate their second goal Finland celebrate their second goal. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We’re still trying to build our confidence levels and that changed the game for them – they were on top until we conceded.

“I think if we had have kept a clean sheet until the 65th minute then we would have kicked-on.”

As it was, Linda Sallstrom’s header doubled the visitors’ advantage and the game was gone for Ireland.

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Although the first goal could have been avoided, Ireland’s problems continue to be at the other end. Once again the forward line fired blanks and putting the ball in the back of the net remains an issue for Ronan’s young side.

“We probably need to go and play the Faroe Islands or Wales,” Byrne joked. “We can do it in training but you can’t beat a game and they just need the confidence.

It’s just a confidence thing and we do a lot of work on defense in training but I think we’re going to need to do work on attack too because our build-up play is good but we’re not scoring.

“You always try to build-on what you achieved in the season or campaign before and we did really well.

“We thought we could beat Finland, we know we can beat them, and Portugal and the only problem is Spain and I think we cam beat them but we need to be at our best and I don’t think you’ve seen that from us over the last couple of years – we’ve never really been at our best.”

Ireland’s next Group 2 fixture is against Portugal on 27 October before they welcome Spain to Tallaght in November.

“We need the continuity and time together but unfortunately we don’t have the time because we need to get the results.”

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