IRELAND HAVE earned their highest-ever finish in the Cyprus Cup despite suffering a 2-0 loss at the AEK Arena in Larnaca this afternoon.
An encouraging start to life under new head coach Colin Bell saw the Girls in Green pick up two wins and a draw over the past week to top Group C.
The format of the 12-nation tournament pitted the winners of Group A (Switzerland) and B (South Korea) against each other in the final, while the top team in Group C faced the best runner-up from the other two groups in a 3/4 place play-off.
That meant Ireland met North Korea, who had beaten Italy and Belgium either side of a loss to the Swiss.
Bell made two changes to the team that beat Wales 1-0 on Monday, with Florida State University’s Meagan Connolly coming in for Sophie Perry and Shelbourne striker Leanne Kiernan replacing Claire O’Riordan.
After a scoreless first half, the side ranked tenth in the world (24 places ahead of Ireland) scored two unanswered goals.
Katie McCabe shot over from 20 yards and Stephanie Roche’s free-kick was saved, before Wi Jong Sim found the top corner on 73 minutes. Kim Ryu Song then hit a superb 30-yard effort with five minutes on the clock.
“It’s a difficult result to take, we should have got something out of the game,” said Bell.
“We were always going to have to be defensive against a side who play the way they do but we did that brilliantly for 75 minutes. Both goals are preventable and the players know that.
We can do better and even though, we’ve had a good tournament, I know the players can do more as we can continue to work with each other in the future.
“Once again, the players have put in a fantastic effort, like they have all week and the players can be really proud of what they’ve achieved as they’ve represented their country brilliantly this week.
“It gives me great hope for the future that the longer we work together, the more we can push this team forward to some real success.”
Ireland’s next fixture is a friendly at home to Slovakia on 10 April.
Ireland: Byrne; O’Gorman (Berrill 90), Caldwell, Quinn, Scott; O’Sullivan (Murray 90), Duggan; Connolly, Roche (Shine 90), McCabe; Kiernan (Littlejohn 85).
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