Katie McCabe and Megan Connolly ran the show tonight. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Georgia on their mind

'One of those days where everything goes right' - Connolly and McCabe magic key for Ireland

The duo linked up brilliantly, finishing with a combined total of four goals and five assists.

JOB DONE, AND done well.

The Republic of Ireland moved a step closer towards qualifying for their first-ever major tournament and equalled their record away win with a 9-0 hammering of Georgia in Gori this evening.

Six of the 14 players Vera Pauw used got on the scoresheet, with two most likely grabbing the headlines: Katie McCabe and Megan Connolly.

Captain McCabe was the hat-trick hero, also chipping in with two assists, while Connolly was crowned Player of the Match after a glittering performance in which she scored one goal and assisted three.

McCabe opened the scoring with six minutes gone, the pre-worked pattern executed to perfection and undoubtedly her favourite of the three, as she told RTÉ 2 post-match.

The Arsenal star went from scorer to provider shortly afterwards, setting Brighton midfielder Connolly up for her offering.

“To be fair, it was put on a plate by Katie,” the Cork ace smiled. “You could say it was easy, but the ball was perfect. I didn’t really have to move. I just stood there and it just hit my foot. So credit to Katie for the deliveries.

“She did really well and then obviously, Lou [Louise Quinn, who scored two headers] got on the end of a lot of them, so that helps.”

McCabe returned the praise, the pair also linking up expertly for her third goal.

“What a ball from Megan. She seen the run and found me brilliantly and all I had to do was just guide it in. Megan’s vision for the goal was brilliant.

“She had a brilliant game in midfield tonight, she really conducted the play, dishing out the assists. I’m delighted for Megan and everyone that got on the score sheet.”

Quinn, Niamh Fahey, Denise O’Sullivan and 17-year-old Abbie Larkin did so too.

“Everyone’s happy,” Connolly continued. “We prepared the last 10 days with a friendly as well to be our best here today. We knew that we wanted to try a lot of things and not a lot was going to work out – a lot of people are in the off-season but I think it was important we just all came together. We were ruthless when we could be, and got the nine goals.”

“We could have got more,” she later added, noting the work they did on set-pieces.

“I think we would have been disappointed in the first half. But I think we upped it the second half, put more on the scoreboard. We wanted to get more, we wanted to keep going.”

Connolly was the beating heart of that ruthless bid tonight, undoubtedly the brightest spark on show.

“It’s one of those days where everything goes right,” she beamed. “You have those days, some days none of them go right. 

“I was lucky today, people got on the end of it. It’s all about the delivery, but at the end of it, you need someone making that run. You need someone putting their body on the line to try get it in. It’s 50/50. I’m glad I could help get some goals in. But it was all about the win and just getting goals on the board. Now we’re looking forward to the next game.

“Obviously, it could have been easy to get carried away and look too far ahead. But it was important for us to focus on today and I think we did a great job.”

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