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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 10 April 2021


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To Montenegro we go, where Ireland look to maintain their unbeaten start to Euro 2021 qualifying. 

This afternoon’s clash comes as another crucial one for Vera Pauw’s side as their quest to reach a first-ever major tournament continues. It’s being played behind closed doors in Budva, and three points is absolutely crucial in the grand scheme of things.

Victory would also send the Girls In Green top of Group I. Kick-off is at 3pm, with live coverage on RTÉ 2 and on RTÉ Player. We’ll have everything you need to know here, too.

Here’s the Ireland team…

West Ham youngster Courtney Brosnan earns her first cap between the posts, where she replaces number one Marie Hourihan. Glasgow City’s Clare Shine comes into the attack, with Heather Payne making way.

Pauw has opted for an interesting 3-2-3-2 formation.

Here’s how the Group I table looks before a ball is kicked this afternoon. Top spot qualifies for Euro 2021 automatically, as do the three best second-placed teams overall. The rest of the runners-up head for play-offs.

group 1 Source:

Just under five minutes to go, so here’s a look at some late pre-match reading if you can fit it in:

KICK-OFF: Montenegro 0-0 Ireland 

The hosts get us underway.

1 min - Jittery start for Ireland, as Montenegro capitalise on a Diane Caldwell mistake in defence. The effort is soft, and no bother for Courtney Brosnan. The West Ham youngster earns her first international cap today.

3 mins - Captain Katie McCabe has had a bright start with her first few deliveries promising. Her first corner from the right is a good one but it sweeps right across the Montenegro box. 

5 mins – Ruesha Littlejohn, Player of the Match against Greece, gets in on the action with an interception and Denise O’Sullivan soon has Ireland’s first real chance going forward. Kuc clears Montenegro’s lines, before the ball falls to Littlejohn for her first shot of the day. It’s deflected out, and Rianna Jarrett heads the resultant corner over the bar.

7 mins – McCabe sparks a nice attack for Ireland, playing Shine in on goal. Goalkeeper Cabarkapa does enough to keep the Glasgow City striker out, but she maybe could have done a little better.

10 mins – Montenegro have, as expected, set up ultra-defensively. Ireland are staying patient, with Denise O’Sullivan’s brilliance around the middle shining through once again. She links up with Littlejohn, but again the play in the final third lets Pauw’s side down. Still 0-0, by the way.


GOAL! Ireland 1-0 Montenegro (Caldwell, 12)

An absolute carbon copy of last week’s goal! McCabe sends an excellent delivery in from the free-kick, Louise Quinn gets her head on it at the back post and knocks it down to Caldwell who piles it home. 76 caps, three goals; and the last two the most important she’ll ever score.

14 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Montenegro captain Bulatovic is down injured after that collision with Caldwell, they’re down to 10 as they wait for her to come back in. That goal came at the perfect time for the Irish, right after a Montenegro score. Kuc broke on the counter-attack, and her effort veered just to the left and wide of Brosnan’s goal.

16 mins - Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

That Caldwell-Quinn partnership really is something else. Solid at the back, and now popping up with goals off the set-piece. A lovely header from Dubliner Caldwell. Now it’s all about getting that second goal, and putting the game to bed.

18 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Another nice team move from Ireland there, and another half chance for Shine. A diagonal ball into the box is moved on by Jarrett, but the onrushing Shine is there too quick and Cabarkapa gets the ball under control after a bit of fumbling.

22 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Nothing comes off McCabe’s latest corner, it’s not just as threatening as her previous set-piece deliveries. The Montenegro defence are under pressure here. After a brilliant Irish tackle at the other end — I can’t make out who it was — the Girls In Green, or white today, attack at pace through Jarrett. Popocic challenges and sends it out for a corner. Again, nothing comes from that short one.

25 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

It’s worth noting that the surface isn’t the best, but Ireland are making the most of it as they move the ball fast and play varied, attacking football. The ‘behind closed doors’ element is coming through more and more too, you can hear the players shouting away so clearly.

28 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Jarrett and Littlejohn combine in the box there as the search for a second goal goes on, but the latter — who plays her club football with West Ham — is called for offside. Good spot. You can hear Quinn ordering the back three to push higher.

30 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Another Montenegro effort, but Brosnan gathers the ball. It’s Kuc again, after the hosts pounced on an Áine O’Gorman error. Her shot is easily dealt with, but had it been a little bit higher, it would have been a trickier assignment for the Irish keeper.

32 mins - Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

O’Gorman — who made a retirement U-turn to win her 101st cap last week — redeems herself with a vital interception in the Irish box. Littlejohn catches Bulatovic in her own half — yes, the Montenegro captain is back to her best after that early collision. Meanwhile, Saranovic is handed the first card of the game for a bad tackle on Jarrett. That was coming…

35 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

O’Gorman, Jarrett and McCabe combine on the attack, but the latter is challenged in the box as she looks to control it. There are calls for handball, but play is waved on. At the other end, Caldwell pops up with a vital headed interception. Kuc was threatening again, with two players coming in behind Caldwell but the goalscorer thankfully cut the attack out.

37 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

A little more ragged from Ireland, as they lose their focus momentarily and allow the hosts to grow into this game. Jarrett, McCabe and Shine combine, but the latter gets nowhere in the end. Seconds later, she has a pop out of the blue. It hits the sidenet, but was certainly worth a go.

40 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

CLOSE! Denise O’Sullivan hits the post after a promising team counter-attack. A let-off for Montenegro, no doubt. That second goal is surely coming…

42 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

It’s all Ireland now as they pile on the pressure in attack. Jarrett is the latest to have a go, but her effort is soft enough and goes wide. She probably should have played Shine in. 

43 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

A good chance for Ireland there as the first half winds down, from a free kick in a threatening position. It’s Jarrett who’s fouled just outside the box on the right, McCabe hits it but her effort goes just over the bar. Another goal before half time would be nice!

45 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Two minutes added on at the end. The Irish defence deal with anything Montenegro throw at them calmly, and look more settled now after that lull period.

HALF-TIME – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Diane Caldwell’s 12th-minute goal has Vera Pauw’s side in the driving seat in Budva.

diane-caldwell-celebrates-scoring-their-first-goal-with-louise-quinn Source: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

What do ye reckon after that first-half performance? 1-0 up but unlucky not to be further ahead, but then again, Ireland have had a few scares.  Big second half needed!

SECOND-HALF: Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Ireland get us going again as the sun sets and the pitch sits in the shadow of the mountain on its right-hand side.

46 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

A let-off for the hosts early on, as McCabe’s brilliant cross is just a whisker ahead of Shine. A bright start to the second half, as Pauw’s side look to kill this game off.

OFF THE LINE! Montenegro clear a goalmouth scramble there, after a fantastic ball in from McCabe. Jarrett, it looks like, has the last say but Saranovic keeps it out. O’Gorman has a go from distance just after, but it doesn’t trouble Cabarkapa.

49 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Montenegro spark to life and send a warning to Brosnan that they’re still here and they can threaten when they want. There’s a let-off for the young keeper then as her kickout isn’t the best, but Ireland keep the hosts out. Nervy.

51 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Two set-pieces in-a-row for Ireland there. The first is another free from the right after a dreadful foul on Jarrett, McCabe’s delivery goes to the back post but Montenegro keep it out. For their second from the left, McCabe opts to go short, she finds Littlejohn and the latter’s cross rattles the post and goes out.

54 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Ireland win another free in a dangerous position, edge of the box this time. Littlejohn takes it, the ball takes a deflection off the top of the wall and goes out for another corner. Nothing major to report from that. A Montenegro player was booked for that free too, will check the name now.

59 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

It was Djukić who saw yellow. US-born Kyra Carusa is in for her debut, as Shine makes way. It will be interesting to see how the recently-declared striker gets on.

61 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Things have gone a little scrappy around the hour-mark. Jarrett and Niamh Fahey are both penalised for fouls, and McCabe soon follows suit. Thankfully, none of the frees are in particularly dangerous positions.

64 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

That last one was, more so than the others anyway. Caldwell sees yellow off the back of it, and Montenegro go again 25 yards or so out on the left. Captain Bulatovic sends it over the bar, to put Brosnan at ease after a sticky period.

RED CARD! Montenegro are reduced to 10 players after Djukic is shown her second yellow card for a foul on Carusa.

70 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Harriet Scott launches a ball into the box from left-back, but it causes little to no trouble for the hosts. Pauw’s side win another corner, it falls to Liverpool vice-captain Fahey on the edge of the box but her half volley spins wide.

72 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Brilliant battling around the middle from Quinn, she wins the ball and tries to play O’Gorman in down the right but it goes out in the end. The hunt for goal number two continues. Elsewhere, Tošković comes in for Stanović.



74 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro

Djokovic sees yellow for a blatant clip on Katie McCabe. Close, then, from the resultant free as Ruesha Littlejohn plays the short ball to Fahey, who in turn finds McCabe and she sends it it… Quinn shinned it though and it went wide. Straight off the training ground, that one.

77 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

Again, nothing comes off Caldwell’s deep cross and it remains 1-0 in Budha. We really need that second goal — remember Germany beat these 10-0…

79 mins – Ireland 1-0 Montenegro 

SO CLOSE! Ireland just can’t get it in the back of the net, though. Littlejohn has a shot blocked in the area, and there are calls for a penalty after a trip but on second watching, it’s not as clear-cut as first thought.

Ireland 2-0 Montenegro (McCabe, 83)

Swooooosh! Lovely free-kick from close range from the skipper, she leaves the keeper with little to no chance. It’s been a really frustrating second half for the visitors, but they’ve gotten their reward with that second goal.

Ireland 3-0 Montenegro (O’Sullivan, 85)

Denise O’Sullivan makes it three, lovely stuff. She fires home — it looks to have taken a deflection — off the back of a nice pull back from Jarrett. A really positive ending, and they want four.

87 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro 

Vujadinović comes in for Kuć, Barrett replaces Jarrett and Katie McCabe is named Player of the Match. High praise from Lisa Fakllon on commentary there.



88 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro 

Those two quick-fire goals have really added the gloss on a fairly frustrating afternoon for Ireland. They now go top of Group I, three valuable points and another clean sheet — barring any major upsets in the dying minutes.

90 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro 

Four minutes added on.

91 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro 

Another nice team move from Ireland as they go in search of goal number four, Littlejohn plays a super ball through the gap but substitute Barrett is well offside. 

93 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro 

Nedić comes in for Dešic as the clock runs down. Ireland look like they’re ready to pounce for another goal, but O’Sullivan is done for handball. 



93 mins – Ireland 3-0 Montenegro

The Girls In Green come close again, but it stays 3-0. That should be pretty much that.

Three goals, three points and a clean sheet sends Ireland top of Group I with three games to go. 

About the author:

Emma Duffy


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