Ryan Byrne/INPHO Ireland captain Katie McCabe during last night's qualifier in Tallaght.
# Down but not out
'This certainly doesn't rule us out of any World Cup. We'll come back fighting in June'
Katie McCabe says last night’s defeat to Netherlands, as damaging as it was, will be a learning curve for her side.

IT’S A MEASURE of how far Ireland have come that defeat to the European champions in a crucial World Cup qualifier has been met with such disappointment, and Katie McCabe hopes last night’s occasion will serve as a valuable learning curve in the ongoing development of this side.

Make no bones about it, a 2-0 home reversal to Netherlands represents a setback, and something of a reality check, for Ireland in their bid to reach a first-ever World Cup, but defeat, it said, can be more instructive than victory.

Two first-half goals sucked the life out of the contest, played in front of a record crowd for a women’s international at Tallaght Stadium, as the hosts’ effort to continue their winning form beset by a slow start.

The result was Ireland’s first loss of a previously flawless qualifying campaign with the Girls in Green now sitting three points behind Netherlands in Group 3, with four of the best runners-up going into a play-off round in October.

McCabe was responsible for the first goal, guilty of over-playing it on the edge of her own box, as Bayern Munich forward Lineth Beerensteyn silenced the home fans before Sherida Spitse doubled the Dutch lead from the spot, albeit in controversial circumstances.

“Yeah, of course [it's disappointing],” McCabe said afterwards. “To concede the two goals early on was a kick in the teeth really. We came out in the second half and really fought. If you give them chances, they’re the European champions so they’re always going to put them away.

Colin Bell  speaks to his team Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ireland head into June's double-header against Norway second in their group. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“We’re always prepared to not let our heads get down straight away. We came back fighting in the second half, and it was just really unlucky tonight.

“I think we gave them too much respect in the first half. We showed in the second half when we came out and got at them, we really frustrated them. If we had done that in the first half, maybe things would have went a little different. But in saying that I was really proud of the girls coming out in the second half and fighting the way we did. It’s great to have a big crowd behind us as well.”

On the first goal, which saw McCabe give possession away, the Ireland captain said: “For me, that was really difficult. I should have just put it in the stand. I’ve been too clever. Then, at that, we should have dealt with the cross coming into the box a little bit better as well. But it’s a learning curve as well. How you improve is playing the best nations, and we can only look to improve going into June.”

That next challenge comes in the form of a home-and-away double-header against Norway, who are sitting just a point behind Ireland in third having played a game less.

“This certainly doesn’t rule us out of any World Cup, going to France or anything like that,” McCabe added.

“We’ll look to analyse this tonight and in the morning, go back to our clubs, get fitter, better, and come back fighting in June.”

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