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FT: Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

…no, no they do not. 

Katie McCabe’s goal rescues a point, but that’s a disappointing result for Ireland at home to a side ranked lower than them. In truth their performance was imprecise and lacked composure, and it’s difficult to argue they deserved more than the draw they got. 

Thanks for following our coverage, stay tuned for Emma Duffy’s report and the best reaction to come. 

Bye! 

 

90+4′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Niamh Fahey wins a crucial header at the back post with danger lurking behind her, but Jamie Finn stops the ball rolling for a corner and then just puts it out of play with a clumsy clearance. 

Do Ireland have late, late drama in them? 

90+2′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Ireland win another free-kick on the touchline – they have had so many – but this time Quinn wins the header and then collides with the goalkeeper, which is given as an incredibly harsh foul. 

Slovakia taking their sweet time in restarting the game…

90+1′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

McCabe’s cross from the left is not particularly accurate but causes chaos in the Slovak defence nonetheless. They manage to clear their lines, Louise Quinn hoiks another high ball into the box but they defend that too. 

FIVE additional minutes! 

89′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

…McCabe’s corner is cleared, and then Slovakia counter. 

Once again they find way too much space down Ireland’s left, Hmirova’s pedestrian cross is met by equally passive Ireland defending and they allow a Slovak player pounce on the ball, but eventually crowd her out. 

Ireland are running out of time. 

87′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Carusa drives into the box and forces a corner. 

Here goes…

86 – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Ireland sustain an attack as the game takes a turn for the manic. Littlejohn pings a delicious ball across the Slovak six-yard box, but Louise Quinn just misses the ball at the back post. The ball is then hoiked back in and Fahey finds herself winning a couple of aerial challenges with the goalkeeper, which the referee has no issue with. Slovakia clear their lines but Ireland win another free-kick, which McCabe puts into the box but Slovakia do enough to thwack clear. 

A Slovak player is lying on the ground for treatment, to avail of a breather as much as anything else. 

83′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Kyra Carusa is coming on for Ireland – replacing Lucy Quinn. Ireland, meanwhile, have another free-kick, around 40 yards from goal. 

81′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

An Irish attack breaks down, Matavkova glides by McCarthy too easily in midfield, but she takes a weak potshot from distance and it flies wide. 

79′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Hmirova is picked out with a lovely diagonal box in the Irish box, but her chest control is much too firm and the ball runs out over the endline. 

Ireland’s momentum has completely stalled, and Slovakia currently look the more likely to score. This has, on balance, been utterly exasperating from Ireland so far. 

75′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Jeepers, Louise Quinn bails Ireland out of jail. Brosnan makes a howler and miscontrols a back pass, she half-blocks the shot by Hmrivoa, but the ball breaks perfectly for Zemberyova, but her shot is brilliantly cleared off the line by Quinn. 

What a let-off. 

74′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Brosnan to the rescue: Biroova is found at the back post completely unmarked, and her header is diverted behind by the Irish keeper. 

Katie McCabe is then booked as she jostles with the substitute Zemberyova in the box before the corner comes in. 

72′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Just before Ireland equalised, Slovakia made a change: the goalscorer Surnovska was withdrawn with cramp, and replaced by the regular centre-forward whom Ireland were expecting to start: Laura Zemberyova. 

70′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Aaaaarrrgh. Ireland break from a Slovakia corner, but Lucy Quinn doesn’t hold her run and is offside as she runs onto O’Sullivan’s through ball. She was in one-on-one had she better timed her run. 

Change for Ireland – Ruesha Littlejohn is on for Aine O’Gorman. 

67′ – Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

That goal was one of the rare occasions Ireland got McCabe close to goal and relatively central, and it was rewarded, thanks in part to smart link-up play between Payne and O’Sullivan. 

64′ – GOAL! Ireland 1-1 Slovakia 

Katie McCabe equalises! 

Payne lays the ball off for O’Sullivan, whose through ball for McCabe is well-measured, and the captain smashes the ball into the bottom far corner. 

No record crowd at Tallaght tonight, either, with a significant number of no-shows. 6,500 tickets sold, but (a still admirable) 5,164 people at the game. 

62′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia

Ping-pong in the Slovak box from a short corner, but they clear their lines. Lucy Quinn has exploded into life, and forces another corner, which she then takes quickly to McCabe, who loses possession and sees an appeal for a foul waves away. 

A slightly manic spell from Ireland, but there’s finally some urgency in their game. 

61′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Lucy Quinn sees a shot from the edge of the box deflected over the crossbar from the second phase of a free-kick from the halfway line. Better again from Ireland. 

58′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Life, at last, from Ireland! McCabe spins her marker and drives down the left and then picks a lovely cut-back for Payne, who shuffles the ball right for O’Sullivan, whose shot is blocked. 

The ball breaks for Megan Connolly, whose rasping drive from range is pushed around the post by Korenciova! 

Slovakia clear the subsequent corner, but that is much better from Ireland. 

55′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

McCarthy almost gets caught in a muddle under a high ball, but Brosnan comes off her line and boots the ball clear before it leads to any more difficulty. It’s all Slovakia at the moment. 

54′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Fahey clears a cross and a follow-up shot from Slovakia is wild and wide. Ireland are still playing at a bewilderingly slow pace. 

52′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Payne drives into the box, lays the ball off for Jamie Finn, who overcooks her cross. 

50′ – Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Ireland need a big response now. McCabe’s cross into the penalty area is controlled by Payne, who then goes under a challenge but the referee is unmoved and waves play on. 

47′ – GOAL Ireland 0-1 Slovakia 

Oh no. Disaster for Ireland. 

Jamie Finn wins a free-kick on the halfway line and Ireland send numbers forward, but are then caught on the counter. Matavkova is in oceans of space on the right wing and has an age to clip a cross to the back post, where Martina Surnovska bundles the ball in from close range. 

Oh dear. 

We’re back underway in the second half! 

No changes on either side. 

HT - Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

That bright period fizzled out in the closing minutes of the first half, and overall it’s been pretty turgid stuff. Ireland have had more of the ball without ever stressing the Slovakian goalkeeper, and they are struggling to play through pretty doughty opponents. 

We’ll be back in a few minutes. 

41′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

O’Sullivan wins the ball and somehow weaves her way out of a gaggle of players, releases Payne down the left wing with a sumptuous outside-of-the-boot pass, but Payne decides to cut inside and try a shot from range, which she badly miscues. 

39′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Megan Connolly takes over corner taking duties and sees her effort cleared at the near post, but Ireland respond instantly: O’Sullivan slides Lucy Quinn down the line, but she is flagged offside as her cross is steered narrowly wide by Payne. 

A much brighter couple of minutes from Ireland! 

38′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Better from Ireland. A lovely Lucy Quinn wall pass sends O’Gorman to the touchline and her fine cross is cleared, but Ireland come again: Lucy Quinn finds space to the right-hand side of the box, and her pull-back is cleared brilliantly by Fischerova. 

McCabe then loops a corner to the back post, and Louise Quinn’s header is parried behind by the goalkeeper for another corner. 

36′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Skorvankova jinks and weaves her way into the Irish box and fires a shot that Brosnan does well to hold in her grasp. 

34′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Yikes, Lucy Quinn takes a throw-in from McCabe and just miscontrols the ball out of play. That sums up a raggedy performance so far. 

32′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Much better: Payne drops off and takes the ball to feet in a central area, spins the ball out wide right to O’Gorman, whose cross is flicked goalwards with Lucy Quinn’s head. It is gathered comfortably by goalkeeper Korenciova, but it’s Ireland’s first effort on target, and came from having a bit more composure in playing through Slovakia. 

31′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Aine O’Gorman tries to angle a long ball over the Slovak defence for Payne, but it is too firmly struck and rolls through for the Slovak goalkeeper. Ireland’s efforts to go over and around a pretty deep-lying defence are not working at all. 

29′ Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Ireland can’t play through Slovakia and are instead trying balls into the right channel for Lucy Quinn but none of them have worked so far: the latest has gone out of play, as did many that went before. 

28′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Better from Ireland as Connolly sends McCabe down the left touchline, and her cross is headed clear by Fischerova. 

27′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

..McCabe’s corner is pinpoint for McCarthy who peels back to the penalty spot, but completely misses her header. 

26′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Slightly hurried defending in the Irish box, but O’Gorman thwacks the ball clear after the ball breaks for Matavkova in the penalty area. Ireland counter from the clearance and O’Sullivan forces Ireland’s first corner, and the cavalry arrive.. 

24′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

More poor play from Ireland: Megan Connolly intercepts the ball in midfield, but her ball down the right channel for Lucy Quinn is overhit and runs out of play. 

Elsewhere – Sweden have beaten Finland 2-1 in the other game in this group. Tonight is another big opportunity for Ireland to make the running in the race for second spot. 

21′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Aine O’Gorman’s first-time clearance down the middle of the field almost works out for Ireland, as centre-back Fischerova underestimates the pace of Heather Payne closing down behind her, but just about hooks the ball away while facing her own goal. 

20′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Aargh, Ireland are really struggling to break Slovakia down and are lacking composure. Denise O’Sullivan is surrounded and forced backwards by the Slovakia defence, and so she plays the ball back to Savannah McCarthy, who hoiks a poor pass up the line and Ireland lose possession. 

18′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia

Aine O’Gorman wins a foul on the right wing, about 35 yards from goal. Better delivery from McCabe is met by Louise Quinn in the box, but Slovakia win the second ball and clear their lines. 

15′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

15 minutes in and…not a whole lot has happened. Ireland have had more of the ball but haven’t done anything with it.  

12′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Now Lucy Quinn is clattered on the left flank. McCabe’s flighted free-kick is poor, and comfortably gathered by the Slovak goalkeeper. 

11′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

A first sight of goal for either side: Maria Mikolajova cuts in from the right and fizzes a shot that Courtney Brosnan gathers comfortably at her near post. 

10′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

McCabe breaks down the left flank for Ireland and sends a terrific cross skidding across Slovakia’s six-yard box, but Lucy Quinn can’t reach it in time. 

8′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

McCabe intercepts a cross-field pass by Slovakia, and as she scarpers away on the counter, Andrea Horvathova grabs her shirt and drags her back in the most conspicuous act of cynicism we’ve seen so far. 

The referee saw it too, and the Slovak defender has been booked. The free-kick just over the halfway line was of little use to Ireland, and it came to nothing. 

5′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Slovakia are sitting off Ireland, pretty deep in their own half in a rigid 4-1-4-1. Ireland have so far failed to pick it apart, but patience will be the name of the game tonight. 

2′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Slovakia’s Surnovska gives us a preview of what is expected to be a key part of their tactics for the night: a cynical hauling down of Lucy Quinn to curb an Irish counter attack. 

1′ – Ireland 0-0 Slovakia 

Some dainty touches from Denise O’Sullivan on the edge of the Slovak box ultimately comes to nothing, but it’s been a bright start from Ireland. 

Peeeeep!

We’re underway at Tallaght! 

The teams are on the pitch, with kick-off at a bitterly cold Tallaght Stadium now just minutes away. 

Here’s how the group looks ahead of kick-off in tonight’s game. Covid led to the postponement of Ireland’s opening game away to Georgia, so Vera Pauw’s side have a game in hand on those ahead of them. 

Screenshot 2021-11-25 at 18.46.57

There’s another significant game in this group on tonight: and at the moment Sweden and Finland are level at 1-1 at half time. 

We’ll keep you up to date with how that game finishes up

What the managers have been saying 

Republic of Ireland manager, Vera Pauw: 

“We, as staff and players, we need to know where we stand. Can I use a Dutch expression? We always say, ‘If you put pants on that are too big a size, they will go down to your ankles.’ If we act as if we are bigger than we are, then we’ll have a problem in coping with that. We’re very realistic with where we stand, where we can grow to and which steps we want to make. Everybody is concentrated on that, and that is how we get the best out of them at this moment. With that method, every game is getting better. Every game we make the next step into our development, which we might not have been able to do maybe half-a-year ago. I think that is a success: players are so concentrated and willing to execute it with all their energy. If everybody realises that we have a long way to go, I think we are on the point of getting at a level where we can qualify, then I think we’re on the right track with each other.”

Slovakia manager, Peter Kopúň:

We can get points off Ireland. I don’t want to come across as having a big mouth but the strength of this team, how the players are set up, entitles me to such optimism.”

Team News 

The team news from Ireland’s point of view is that there is no news: Vera Pauw has picked the same side as started each of the opening two qualifiers in this group, meaning Katie McCabe has shaken off a foot problem and is fit to start. 

Screenshot 2021-11-25 at 18.25.42

EVENING ALL, IRELAND have made a strong start to their qualifying group for the 2023 World Cup by beating second seeds Finland in Helsinki last month, but a surprise away victory will be squandered if they can’t win at home to the sides they are expected to beat. 

Six points from six across this double-header with Slovakia and Georgia are a must if Ireland are to make a serious assault on qualification, either in the guise of automatically from top spot or, as is more likely, second place and the play-offs. 

It begins tonight with the visit of Slovakia to Tallaght, the group’s fourth seeds and thus a side Ireland are expected to beat. 

Slovakia’s manager has been talking a good game, though, and they have proved doughty opponents in the group so far. They were beaten by a single goal at home to Finland while top seeds Sweden are a barometer of their progress: Slovakia lost 1-0 to them at home in September, having been beaten 7-0 when the sides met 10 months earlier.  

Nonetheless momentum is with Ireland and the vibes are approaching an all-time high: a record attendance is anticipated at Tallaght Stadium tonight.  

Kick off is at 7pm, and team news follows next. 

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Gavin Cooney

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