Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

As it happened: Italy v Ireland, international friendly

Ireland faced Italy in the first game since Eileen Gleeson became the permanent manager.

Italy 0-0 Ireland

Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

This evening will be Eileen Gleeson’s first game as permanent Ireland manager and it is undoubtedly the stiffest test they have faced since last summer’s World Cup.

Italy are currently ranked 14th in the world, 10 places above Ireland, and so will be favourites for this encounter in Florence.

Continuing their post-World Cup winning run that saw them easily earn promotion from their Nations League group won’t be easy, but Gleeson at least will be hoping for some positive signs ahead of the Euro 2025 qualifiers, which get underway in April with the draw on 5 March.

It will be one of the two friendlies in this window, with Ireland hosting Wales in Tallaght on Tuesday.

With a couple of important players out injured, it will also be a good chance for some of the fringe players to stake a claim for a more regular spot in the team.

an-ireland-fan-ahead-of-the-game An Ireland fan ahead of the game. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

niamh-fahey Ireland’s Niamh Fahey. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

We’re underway…

It’s been a scrappy start with neither team really threatening.

Jessie Stapleton has begun in midfield, with Hayes slotting into central defence.

Payne plays through Carusa on goal.

The attacker can’t get a proper connection on the finish and the goalkeeper saves with relative ease.

McCabe lofts in a dangerous corner.

Hayes is in there making her presence felt but goalkeeper Schroffenegger gets a hand to it and it’s eventually scrambled clear.

There’s been some good pressing by Ireland in the early stages.

They’ve had Italy pinned back into their half for much of the game so far.

17 mins: Claims for a penalty, as Carusa goes down in the box with Gama close after good work by Atkinson to win the ball back.

However, the replay suggests the Albanian ref was right to ignore the appeal, as Carusa seemed to slip as she ran towards the ball rather than being fouled.

19 mins: Glionna finds Piemonte with a cross but the latter’s header lacks conviction and doesn’t trouble Brosnan.

Italy have barely threatened at all so far.

Oliviero finds herself in plenty of space on the left.

However, her low cross is too close to the goalkeeper and comfortably gathered by Brosnan.

25 mins: Littlejohn receives treatment after picking up a knock but should be alright to continue.

Italy have been gaining more control of the game in recent minutes, but Ireland have looked comfortable for the most part.

30 mins: Italy have looked quite impressive technically and have been keeping the ball well in recent minutes.

Ireland appear content to cede possession, sit back and try to hit their opponents on the counter-attack.

32 mins: Glionna attempts a shot on the edge of the area, but it’s well off target.

Those are the kind of efforts Italy have been reduced to so far against a fairly solid-looking backline.

Girelli’s free kick from out wide is curled straight into the hands of Brosnan.

The Italians have been pretty poor from those types of situations so far.

42 mins: It continues to be a very scrappy game with little goalmouth action.

Italy are still dominating possession but at the moment, look incapable of breaking Ireland down.

kyra-carusa-with-katja-schroffenegger Ireland’s Kyra Carusa with Katja Schroffenegger of Italy. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

45 mins: Italy have their best chance yet.

Down the right, Glionna slips through Piemonte, whose shot from a tight angle deflects off Stapleton and loops just wide.


So that’s the first half over and done with.

From a defensive viewpoint, Ireland can be relatively satisfied as they’ve restricted Italy to a handful of half-chances at best.

Down the other end though, they’ve offered very little. Carusa had one decent opportunity that she didn’t properly connect with when the goalkeeper was bearing down on her amid a strong start from the visitors, but Italy grew more dominant in possession and territory as the game wore on.

So it’s a decent base, but Gleeson will surely be telling her team there is room for improvement as they prepare for the second period.

Most importantly, they need to keep the ball better against technically superior opponents.

caitlin-hayes Ireland’s Caitlin Hayes attempts to head the ball. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland have made a change at the break seemingly in an attempt to give them more of a threat.

Littlejohn has been replaced by Lucy Quinn.

46 mins: We’re back underway.

48 mins: McCabe plays in a free kick from the right, but it’s too close to the goalkeeper.

Ireland need to make more from set pieces as they’re not creating much from open play thus far.

Meanwhile, after 140 caps, Sara Gama departs the field for the last time in international football as the game is stopped temporarily as teammates congratulate her.

Elisa Bartoli comes on in her place.

52 mins: Dragoni shoots from the edge of the area but can’t hit the target.

Moments later, they have another chance, but Galli overhits a through pass with decent options around her, allowing Brosnan to gather the ball.

ruesha-littlejohn-with-giada-greggi Ireland’s Ruesha Littlejohn with Giada Greggi of Italy. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

59 mins: Still no sign of the deadlock being broken.

There is still a little more than half an hour to go, but it feels like the type of game where one goal may well be enough to win it for either side.

Ireland make some changes

Leanne Kiernan and Amber Barrett come on, while Atkinson and Carusa make way.

64 mins: Italy make two changes.

Girelli and Glionna are off

Bonfantini and Catena are on.

68 mins: More changes for Ireland.

Agg and Larkin are on.

Ziu and Stapleton are off.

71 mins: Lucy Quinn has a pot shot that goes a few inches wide.

Amber Barrett is frustrated she wasn’t used there.

73 mins: Ireland have the ball in the net, but it’s adjudged to be offside.

Judging by replays, it looked like a questionable call.

Barrett crossed the ball in for Kiernan who slotted the ball home.

The substations appear to have given Ireland a new lease of life.

76 mins: Two more Italy changes.

Galli and Greggi are off.

Caruso and Severini are on.

sara-gama-leaves-the-field-on-her-final-appearance-for-the-national-team Italy’s Sara Gama leaves the field on her final appearance for the national team. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

Michela Catena goes past Payne and is through on goal but balloons her shot over the bar.

That is the best chance of the match by far.

84 mins: Kiernan has just been somewhat harshly booked for a mistimed challenge on Caruso.

Meanwhile, Italy make another change — Dragoni is replaced by Barbara Bonansea.

87 mins: On RTÉ, co-commentator Aine O’Gorman has picked Niamh Fahey as the player of the match.

The 36-year-old has looked solid and organised the defence well on her return to the team.

89 mins: Ireland are still struggling to acquire much attacking rhythm but look like they have done enough to earn a draw.

It’s been one of those games where defensive discipline and hard work have trumped quality.

90 mins: There’s a bit of concern for Amber Barrett who has picked up a knock and is hobbling following a late challenge.

Ireland make a final change with Aoife Mannion replacing Payne.

90 mins: There will be five minutes of stoppage time.

90 mins: Bonansea produces a decent shot from the edge of the area that goes a few inches wide.

Italy will feel frustrated as they will argue they’ve created enough chances to win the game.


So that’s that.

It wasn’t the most pleasing or entertaining game to watch, but a decent result in the end for Ireland against a side few people were expecting them to beat.

Eileen Gleeson, on her first game as permanent manager, will be happy at how her side largely contained Italy.

It might have been even better for the visitors, as Kiernan had what looked like a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside, but a loss would have been harsh on the Italians, who grew increasingly dominant as the game wore on and had one or two big chances in the second half.

It was good to see players like Amber Barrett — who have been out of the picture for a while — get some game time and make an impact from the bench, while Niamh Fahey was a well-deserved player-of-the-match award winner on her return.

Gleeson’s winning run has come to an end, but she remains unbeaten as Ireland manager and can some positives into Tuesday’s game at home to Wales.

amber-barrett Amber Barrett of Ireland. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

Right, that’s all from me for now.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to follow on the site shortly.

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