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'Why are you all wearing the same clothes?...' 'Eh, we're the Irish team.'

Louise Quinn won her 90th cap against Slovakia, and talked the past, present and future afterwards.

ireland-huddle-after-the-game Vera Pauw's Republic of Ireland women's national team huddle after Thursday night's 1-1 draw with Slovakia. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

LOUISE QUINN IS always one to look at the bigger picture. At the journey, rather than the destination.

Fresh off her crucial goal-line intervention to avoid disaster against Slovakia, the ever present Republic of Ireland defender had a few words for the Irish crowd. As always.

5,164 fans braved the elements on Thursday night, and while a 1-1 draw felt like a disappointing result given the Girls In Green’s bright start to the campaign, the World Cup qualification dream remained intact at the fortress that is Tallaght Stadium.

“We love it. We love coming to Tallaght,” Quinn beamed after her winning her 90th cap.

“We love, even on the coldest night of the year, that people are still coming. Or if not, there’s so many people at home watching.

“We can’t literally walk from the hotel without people saying, ‘Good luck, we can’t wait to watch you’. That’s what you love to hear. We’re growing this game, and we’re very proud of it.”

That wasn’t always the way; the significant shift in support evident through the rise of Irish women’s football.

“No, absolutely not,” she nods. “People would be like, ‘Who’s that group of people in those tracksuits?’ Honestly. They’d be almost laughing at you! ‘Why are yous all wearing the same clothes?’ ‘Eh, we’re the Irish team…’

“It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. It really is. It’s heart-warming, and we know that the support we get from everywhere is unbelievable, and we’re only going to take it further. We know that we can keep going with this. We want to keep the belief with the fans, keep going in this group. We know we have it, and we need them.”

Quinn oozes class on and off the pitch. Her heroic defending in the 75th minute, denying a definite goal after Courtney Brosnan’s error, summed it up.

The teak-tough Birmingham City captain ran a tight ship in defence all night, and that vital, unconventional block with her trailing leg brought a massive sigh of relief.

“Can you talk to me about it? I don’t know what happened,” she laughed afterwards.

“Yeah, listen. I reacted. I saw the girl close Courtney, so I was like, ‘Right I’m just going to go, get myself on the line and hope to God she hits it at me’. Thankfully, I don’t know where it hit, which foot or whatever, but it feels as good as a goal sometimes.

“To keep ourselves in the game, it can hopefully sway that momentum. It’s part of the job, but very happy.”

The Wicklow native wasn’t surprised by Slovakia’s quality, an-ever improving team ranked 12 places below Ireland. From watching video footage this week and their campaign so far – the narrowest of losses to Sweden and Finland, and a win over Georgia (Ireland fell just short to Sweden at home, and beat the Finns 2-1 away) – she knew what was coming.

But Ireland also knew they would have more time on the ball, and longer spells in possession than before; something they clearly struggled with.

“It was just a little bit of our composure, a little bit of our decision making, and putting our game to teams,” Quinn explains. “That’s something we still need to get right. We totally have the quality to do it, but sometimes that’s the disadvantage of international football. We need to bring it together quickly.

“I think when we look back at the game, it’s going to be exactly that [a disappointing result but also lucky to get the point]. It’s going to be, ‘We need to do better there, we need to do better there.’”

They won’t have long to wait to right the wrongs, with Group A’s bottom seeds, Georgia, coming to Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday. Given the current landscape of the group and the work Ireland have left themselves to do, it’s a must-win, with three points crucial.

“That’s non-negotiable,” she agrees. “With that point, we’ve definitely kept ourselves in it. We came into it, we knew that Slovakia weren’t going to be easy.

louise-quinn-applauds-the-fans-after-the-game Quinn applauding the fans after the game. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Even in this entire group, you might think that Sweden may pip it. But we were never saying it was between ourselves and Finland [for second place]. Ever. But it’s just got to be that performance level.

“And we created chances. Megan [Connolly] had an absolute ripper of a shot that the ‘keeper did great with. A few bouncing balls in there, they just didn’t bounce our way to get the bodies in at it.”

She echoed her skipper Katie McCabe’s words that there’s plenty of football to be played yet, and stressed her own belief that the quality is there and they’re ever growing.

“Yeah, exactly. We still have all the away legs, still so much to go. Anything could happen in this group. Points will be taken everywhere and anywhere. We’ve just got to try to keep it in our control. Having the belief in ourselves. We still have it.

“You could say it’s two points dropped. One point gained. We’re going to look at it all that way. And just know that it’s not over. We won’t be dropping the heads at all.”

BTL 5

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Emma Duffy

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