Dublin: 12°C Thursday 26 May 2022

A memorable night as Ireland's new era begins but bigger challenges lie ahead

Four talking points from last night’s win, as Colin Bell’s side go in search of qualification for their first major tournament.

1. A night of fresh starts and new beginnings

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland Women’s National Team (WNT) got their 2019 World Cup qualifying campaign off to the perfect start last night, with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland.

Republic of Ireland players celebrate their sides first goal Ireland got off to a winning start at Mourneview Park, Lurgan. Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

It was Colin Bell’s first competitive match since taking over at the helm, while 21-year-old Katie McCabe wore the captain’s armband for the first time.

There were two debuts handed out too – Tyler Toland and Amber Barrett were both sprung from the bench in the second half.

Three points and a clean sheet will come as a huge boost to this Ireland side as they get their bid to reach their first major tournament underway.

2017 is a year which will be easily remembered for the WNT’s decision to take a stand for better conditions, but they’ll be hoping that their actions on the pitch will take over from here on out.

2. Megan Campbell well and truly back to her best

There was one name that grabbed the headlines last night, and it was Megan Campbell.

The Manchester City defender’s monstrous long throws have been causing havoc for as long as many in women’s football circles can remember, and it resulted in the opening goal, as s deflection from Rachel Furness had the ball in her own net.

She then doubled her side’s advantage in the second half, as her cross-shot made it 2-0. It floated into the top corner, and came as a sure sign that Campbell is back to her very best in the green jersey.

Plagued by injury for much of last season, the Drogheda native marked her full return to stardom with a glittering display in Man City’s FA Cup win in May and will be hoping to carry that form through, for both her club and country.

3. Improvements made, but more to go

This Ireland team looked good last night. They dominated throughout, and their first-half performance in particular showed signs of a side hungry to make their mark and break boundaries.

We’ve seen the ball hoofed more often than not in the past, but Colin Bell’s side produced the best football they’ve played in a long time last night. They were cool and collected in possession, playing the ball around on the ground and displaying some impressive passages of play.

“It was a great performance from the team and I’m delighted to be going home with the points,” he said afterwards.

“We could have scored a few more goals than we did but we’ve learnt a lot from tonight’s game and I’m sure we’ll continue to improve as the campaign continues.”

While they’ll take a lot from last night’s win, they will need to improve further for upcoming key away games.


Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.

Become a Member

There is slight concern going forward too, with Stephanie Roche stretchered off in the closing stages while UCD Waves attacker Áine O’Gorman also left the field through injury.

4. Much bigger challenges lie ahead

Last night’s result against Northern Ireland leaves the Girls in Green in good stead, and brings them confidence in an extremely challenging group.

Euro 2017 champions the Netherlands, top seeds Norway and Slovakia make up the remaining three sides, with just first-placed guaranteed to reach the World Cup in France.

Simone Magill with Megan Campbell Campbell was instrumental last night. Source: Presseye/William Cherry/INPHO

Ranked 21st in the world, Ireland are third seeds in Group 3, while Norway and the Netherlands sit 11th and 12th in the world rankings respectively.

Last night, Norway beat Slovakia 6-1 — their second win after seeing off Northern Ireland 4-1. And Slovakia are next up for Ireland, in an away fixture on 24 October.

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:

Republic of Ireland overcome the North to get World Cup qualifying campaign off to winning start

‘He has a track record of success and really backs himself. That filters down to the team’

About the author:

Emma Duffy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel