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Pauw hopes Shane Long's heroics of 2015 can inspire Ireland to salvage their qualification bid

The Girls in Green will host the Germans on 1 December.

Updated Nov 10th 2020, 9:32 PM

vera-pauw Ireland manager Vera Pauw issuing instructions to her players during the recent game against Ukraine. Source: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

VERA PAUW IS adamant that the Republic of Ireland’s prospects of qualifying for the European Championships are not yet dead, despite seeing her side suffer an enormous setback last month.

A 1-0 defeat away to Ukraine has left Ireland facing a daunting prospect if they’re to remain on track to reach a first major tournament via the play-offs.

When they conclude their Group I campaign with a game against Germany at Tallaght Stadium on 1 December, the Girls in Green must match or better Ukraine’s result at home to Montenegro on the same day.

Given that Montenegro have lost all seven of their games to date, conceding 26 goals and scoring just one, the likelihood is that Ireland will need to beat a Germany side who are currently ranked second in the world.

The Germans, who were 3-0 winners against Ireland in Essen in September, boast a remarkable record in qualifying matches, having lost just one in the past two decades.

“We are realistic because we have already played against Germany,” Pauw said today after announcing a provisional 31-strong squad which will be trimmed before the players assemble on 22 November.

“But these players are Irish and Irish players go for everything. The finishing line is after 90 minutes, plus injury-time, and then we will see. But we will prepare for a win, of course, and that starts with not losing. It has to be a win. A draw is not enough.”

louise-quinn-dejected-after-the-game Ireland defender Louise Quinn looking dejected after the 1-0 defeat in Kiev. Source: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

Qualification may ultimately prove to be out of reach once more, but Pauw believes that Ireland continue to make progress. Nevertheless, there have been costly errors during their bid to reach the Euros, which will be held in England in July 2022.

A stoppage-time equaliser scored by Greece last November deprived Ireland of two points, while the loss in Ukraine was also a missed opportunity. A defensive mix-up between Aine O’Gorman and Courtney Brosnan gifted the hosts the decisive goal in Kiev, before Katie McCabe rattled the crossbar with a penalty.

The Ireland boss said: “We are striding forward. We are doing at this moment so well. I have written a letter to the players and staff, in which I highlighted what has happened in our campaign.

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“If you look at it, apart from Germany, we did not concede one single goal from an attack of our opponent. They were mistakes from us and we need to learn from that.

“We have grown so fast. The message is that we have a chance to succeed, it is in our hands if we play like we can play, even if the chances are slim.

“We have taken a step forward in every game, even though there is hardly any chance to train. In taking those steps forward, we have confidence that we can surprise.

“We will do everything in our power to get a result against Germany and the players are ready. They don’t want to give up either in any single moment until that last finishing line.”

republic-of-irelands-shane-long-scores Shane Long beating Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in 2015. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

In the aftermath of Ukraine’s recent win over Greece, which further dented Ireland’s hopes of securing second place and a guaranteed play-off spot, Pauw sought to inspire her players with a reminder of a memorable victory for the Irish men’s team against Germany.

Against the odds at the Aviva Stadium in October 2015, Shane Long scored an unlikely winner against the Germans – who were then the reigning world champions – to help the Boys in Green qualify for the following summer’s European Championships.

“I sent that goal from the famous 2015 game immediately after the Ukraine game against Greece to the players,” Pauw said. “It is possible and Ireland have shown it before, so why would we not be able to get a night like that for ourselves?

“We will do everything to get there and we’ll see after the game whether it’s realistic or not. We know the strength of Germany, we know that the chances are slim, but we will go for it 100%.”

Meanwhile, Manchester City defender Megan Campbell could soon be back in action after encountering a stumbling block in her efforts to return. A serious ankle injury has sidelined her since January.

“She had a setback in her recovery,” Pauw said of the 27-year-old Drogheda native. “She’s getting back to training – actually today is her first session on the pitch with the [Manchester City] team again.

“We follow her closely and have close contact with her coach. That’s a very good thing, a very positive contact, and we will continue to follow her. We had hoped for her to be ready in October but that unfortunately was not the case.”

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Paul Dollery

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