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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
PA Images. Megan Connolly and Izzy Atkinson had positive Sundays.
# Reaction
Praise for Irish duo as Connolly returns from injury and Atkinson bags late winner
The pair made their mark in the Women’s Super League yesterday.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND international Megan Connolly made a welcome return to action for Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday.

The Cork star had been out of action since suffering fractured ribs and a bruised kidney in the Girls In Green’s World Cup qualifier win over Finland at Tallaght Stadium on 1 September.

Midfielder Connolly played a key role through Ireland’s successful qualifying campaign, but missed their final qualifier against Slovakia and the historic play-off win away to Scotland as a result of her injuries.

She was also absent for last Monday’s international friendly win over Morocco, but returned to Women’s Super League action for Brighton yesterday.

Official Brighton & Hove Albion FC / YouTube

The 25-year-old was a half-time substitute against Liverpool, the game ending in a 3-3 draw.

And acting head coach Amy Merricks, filling the void left by long-time manager Hope Powell, praised Connolly upon her return.

“She’s worked really hard, I’m really pleased for her to get herself back on the pitch. She helped steady the ship somewhat. Really pleased she got back in today.”

“Happy to be back,” Connolly wrote on Instagram, one of four Irish players to feature in the clash at Broadfield Stadium. Megan Walsh was in goal for the Seagulls, while Niamh Fahey and Megan Campbell both started for Liverpool as they rescued a draw late on.

Screen Shot 2022-11-21 at 15.11.13 Megan Connolly Instagram. Megan Connolly Instagram.

Meanwhile, Izzy Atkinson was hailed by her West Ham manager Paul Konchesky after her 88th-minute winner against Leicester City yesterday.

Atkinson came off the bench to score her first goal for the club, one she dedicated to her late grandfather.

“+3! Late minute winners and my first goal for West Ham. For u [sic] grandad. 12 years gone today,” she wrote on Twitter.

The former Shelbourne and Celtic winger shared her frustration at limited club minutes on Ireland duty earlier this month, but could see those increase after her moment of magic yesterday.

Ex-West Ham and Liverpool star Konchesky said: “I’ve been able to watch it back and it’s a fantastic finish. I thought she’d taken a touch to many but she took it superbly. I’m really pleased for her.

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“All I ask from my players that don’t start is, can they come into the game and make a positive impact.

“Izzy coming on and scoring gives me something to look at going into the Conti Cup game next week. She’s finished the game for us and got us the three points which is brilliant.”

“It wasn’t the best game, if you like – it was a little bit scrappy out there,” he added.

“But the most important thing is that we come off the pitch with the three points. My girls showed fantastic desire to keep the ball out of the net at the end, so to get a clean sheet as well is fantastic.

“The second half wasn’t pretty from our perspective, but we’ve found a way to win and it’s a big bonus to be walking away with three points instead of one.”

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