Megan Connolly is ruled out with a rib injury. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Ins and outs

Connolly blow as quartet depart Ireland squad ahead of Slovakia qualifier

Niamh Fahey, Ruesha Littlejohn and Jamie Finn also exit, with Jessie Stapleton and Izzy Atkinson called up.

FOUR REPUBLIC OF Ireland women’s national team players have departed the squad ahead of next week’s final 2023 World Cup qualifier away to Slovakia.

Vera Pauw’s side secured an historic play-off with a 1-0 win over Finland at Tallaght Stadium last night, and round off their Group A campaign in Senec on Tuesday [KO 5pm Irish time, live on RTÉ 2].

Megan Connolly, Niamh Fahey and Ruesha Littlejohn have been ruled out through injury, with Jamie Finn not travelling due to suspension. Jessie Stapleton and Izzy Atkinson have been called up in their absence.

Key defender and Liverpool captain Fahey missed last night’s monumental 1-0 win over Finland due to a groin injury, but in Wednesday’s pre-match press conference, manager Vera Pauw said their was “still hope” for Slovakia. 

Midfielder Littlejohn was substituted in the 40th minute yesterday, having struggled with a foot injury, before her replacement, Lily Agg scored the decisive goal.

Connolly, also a midfielder but playing deeper in a back three last night due to the absence of Fahey, appeared to sustain a knock, but excelled through the 90-plus minutes. A rib injury rules her out, while Finn received her third yellow card of the campaign against Finland.

The loss of Brighton star Connolly is a particular blow, the other three exits announced by the FAI this evening not entirely surprising and relatively expected.

Shelbourne teenage sensation Stapleton and Atkinson, who recently made the move from Celtic to Aston Villa, report into camp today.

They’re both defensive players, but can also play advanced roles if necessary.

Pauw’s squad fly to Bratislava this weekend.

Ireland WNT squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Claire O’Riordan (Celtic), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Megan Campbell (Liverpool), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Jess Ziu (West Ham United), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Isibeal Atkinson (West Ham United)

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Amber Barrett (FFC Turbine Potsdam), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne), Saoirse Noonan (Durham WFC).

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