IRELAND’S WOMEN’S TEAM had an encouraging 2017, with an unbeaten start to their World Cup qualifying campaign that included an impressive 0-0 draw with European champions Holland.
And 2018 has now got off to an encouraging start, following today’s 3-1 friendly win over Portugal at Estadio San Miguel in the Azores.
Colin Bell’s side went ahead on 34 minutes after a clinical counter-attack. Heather Payne won the ball just inside her own half, before releasing Leanne Kiernan down the right wing, with the 18-year-old’s cross headed home by team captain Katie McCabe.
Cavan native Kiernan then doubled Ireland’s advantage shortly after the break, latching on to Chelsea player Niamh Fahey’s long ball and accelerating away from her marker, before producing an impressive first-time finish.
It was 3-0 on 66 minutes — McCabe’s cross was deflected towards Louise Quinn, and the Arsenal defender’s bullet header left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Diana Silva managed a late consolation goal for the hosts, as Bell’s side produced another solid performance, which bodes well for an important year ahead.
It was the second game in the space of a couple of days that the Irish team played against Portugal, having lost 1-0 against the same opposition on Thursday.
“It was a deserved victory,” Bell said afterwards. “We were much better today. I thought we were very sluggish on Thursday, maybe the long journey had an effect but that was much improved.
“We made a couple of changes and put two up front, and I think we created plenty of problems for Portugal. They’re a very good side but as soon as we scored the first goal, we were in control of the game and got the result.
They were fantastic goals and I’m delighted for Leanne Kiernan who performed to the levels we know she’s capable of today. She’s trained really well over the past two days and got a deserved goal, I’m delighted for her.
“They were plenty of great performances and it’s been another important week as we continue to prepare for the qualifiers in April. This is a great result to keep that momentum going and we can take plenty of confidence from this.”
📣 TEAM NEWS: Portugal v #IRLWNT🇮🇪 - Two changes made for the second friendly!— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) January 21, 2018
👏 @peamountutd winger Heather Payne retains her starting spot!
👍 Ruesha Littlejohn starts for the first time since September 2016!
🙌 @shelslfc forward @kiernan_leanne starts!
💪 #COYGIG pic.twitter.com/GC3q4wKd3W
🎥 What a fantastic header from @_KatieMcCabe9!— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) January 21, 2018
Great tackle from @Heddy13Heather! 💪
Great run and cross from @kiernan_leanne! 👏
Great header from skipper @_KatieMcCabe9! ⚽️
HT and #IRLWNT🇮🇪 lead 1-0! #COYGIG pic.twitter.com/4WsHMQrtR2
🎥 A goal made at @ArsenalWFC!— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) January 21, 2018
Great awareness from @_KatieMcCabe9 to collect the short corner and cross for @louise_quinn4 to head home! 👏#IRLWNT🇮🇪 lead 3-0 with 1⃣0⃣ minutes remaining! #COYGIG 💪 pic.twitter.com/WdjD60PUdc
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