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Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe.
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

'We've come on leaps and bounds. 1-0 against the second best in the world isn't the worst result'

Ireland skipper Katie McCabe says her side ‘need to eliminate the fine margins’ after an own goal proved costly against Sweden.
Oct 23rd 2021, 7:15 AM 1,986 1

DISAPPOINTED BUT PROUD was the general consensus on Thursday night, after the Republic of Ireland fell to a 1-0 defeat to Sweden in their opening World Cup qualifier.

An unfortunate Louise Quinn own goal in the first half ultimately settled matters at Tallaght Stadium; the Girls In Green falling just short after battling gamely against Group A’s top seeds, who are ranked second in the world, 31 places above Vera Pauw’s side.

The Swedes certainly showed their class as 4,017 fans watched on, but Ireland can take plenty of positives, confidence and belief from their own performance. Captain Katie McCabe was certainly pleased with the effort, though felt her side “deserved more”.

“I’m trying to find the right words,” she told the media afterwards. “Disappointed for sure, because I really thought we could have got the equaliser, especially in that second half.

“The belief from the girls from minute one right through to the 96th minute was fantastic, the effort. You seen us drop to our knees because we left it all out there. We’ve come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and 1-0 against the second best team in the world isn’t the worst result. I think we definitely stood toe-to-toe to them at times, and the crowd really helped us push on in that second half, it was brilliant.

“But obviously we wanted a point, or three even.”

The Arsenal star rued the “unfortunate own goal,” which came after Ireland committed to more attacking play as half time approached. “But they’re the fine margins at this level we need to eliminate,” she added.

“They’ve got a lot of quality in that team. They’re really, really dangerous in those wide areas and that was why we set up in the 5-4-1, to kind of get the extra body out wide. I felt we did that really well. We gifted them the own goal, I just thought we deserved something more — at least a draw, in my opinion.”

katie-mccabe-poses-for-a-photo-with-fans-after-the-game McCabe meeting fans after the final whistle. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

That’s in the past now, though, as the focus switches to a crucial clash with the group’s second seeds, Finland, at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

“Obviously Finland is a whole other ball game. We’ll look to recover from this one tonight and then get all focus on Finland from tomorrow onwards,” McCabe said, with belief  “embedded in the team” after significant progress of late. “We know what we’re good at, but it’s about eliminating those mistakes that kind of cost us in the end.”

Retaining possession is one particular area of improvement, she says: “Especially when we’re playing that deep block, we’re retaining the ball to let ourselves get more bodies higher up and then obviously catch teams on the counter.

“We’ve got great pace in Heather [Payne] and Leanne Kiernan, and even Lucy Quinn now coming in most recently. We’ve got real quality, we’ve got players playing at a high level that can bring that quality in as well. Lou [Quinn] and Niamh Fahey at the back, absolute solid box, Courtney [Brosnan] getting Man of the Match tonight, she deserves that.”

McCabe also hailed injury concern Denise O’Sullivan, who “runs herself into the ground for this team and represents Ireland with the utmost.”

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The North Carolina Courage star’s setback was thankfully not as serious as first feared, and she will be fit for Tuesday’s tussle, in a massive boost for the side.

Watch: a moment of magic from McCabe:

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