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'I am disappointed, but very proud. We can only go up, and we believe.'

Vera Pauw’s ‘tigers’ fell to a 1-0 defeat to Sweden in their opening World Cup qualifier tonight.

Republic of Ireland women's national team manager Vera Pauw.
Republic of Ireland women's national team manager Vera Pauw.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

VERA PAUW WAS “disappointed with the result but very proud of the performance” as her Republic of Ireland women’s national team fell to a 1-0 defeat to the world’s second-ranked team, Sweden, in their opening 2023 World Cup qualifier.

The Girls In Green put on a battling and resolute display tonight as 4,017 watched on at Tallaght Stadium; an unfortunate Louise Quinn own goal in the first half ultimately settling matters.

“I hope Ireland is proud of their tigers,” as Pauw told RTÉ just after the final whistle. “It’s a shame but I’m so proud.”

That was the resounding message from the Ireland boss as she later spoke to the written media, though she didn’t give much away on the fact that midfield maestro Denise O’Sullivan is likely a major doubt for Tuesday’s clash against Finland in Helsinki.

The North Carolina Courage star sustained an arm injury in the dying minutes, and is understood to have been taken to hospital. “I have no idea,” Pauw said. “She is with the doctor. It looks [serious] but I have not been with the doctor, I don’t want to think about it.”

Delving deeper into the game itself, in which Courtney Brosnan starred between the posts and was named Player of the Match, the Dutch boss noted: “I am disappointed with the result but very proud of the performance.

“We had hoped that we could keep it close, there were a few moments where our goalkeeper did fantastic, she played the game of her life so far and I felt we could put them under pressure.

“We played 1-4-2-4 at the end, they were adapting to how we played, they put on [Nilla] Fischer, and that is a huge compliment for us. It’s been, again, better than previous games and we are still on the way up, we don’t know the ceiling.”

vera-pauw-and-louise-quinn-after-the-game Pauw with Louise Quinn after the game. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Pauw and her side knew it would be “wave after wave” from before a ball was kicked, and she opted to play 1-5-4-1 to counteract conceding goals, before switching to a more attacking formation down the home straight with Quinn sent up top in a bid to utilise her aerial threat and score at the other end of the pitch.

“It’s such a shame it’s an own goal because she actually mis-kicked the ball, to lose it like that, but if you look at our process you can be very proud of our team,” Pauw added.

“We grow every single game. Every game is getting better, this was again better than Australia [they beat the Matilda's 3-2 in a friendly last month] in the way that we played, in our game plan. We can only go up, and we believe.

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“We need to be realistic, as long as we play realistic, with a game plan that suits these players and brings us a step further, then I think we are on the right path.”

Group A’s second seeds Finland are up next in Helsinki on Tuesday, as Ireland’s bid to qualify for a first-ever major tournament continues.

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella, and Gavan Casey discuss Ireland’s squad, women’s rugby reviews, and the Tadhg Beirne incident on The42 Rugby Weekly:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Emma Duffy

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