World Cup dream comes to heartbreaking end as Ireland fall just short in Norway

The game finished 1-0, with Caroline Graham Hansen hitting home from the spot.

Image: Andrew Halseid Budd/INPHO

Norway 1

Ireland 0

THE DREAM OF qualifying for a first-ever major tournament is on hold once again for the Ireland WNT, as they suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat to Norway in their 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifier.

After losing 2-0 to Group 3′s top seeds in their meeting in Tallaght on Friday evening, the clash in Stavanger was a must-win for Collin Bell’s side to keep their hopes alive.

And in a campaign in which the Girls in Green have been decimated by injuries time and time again, that bad luck continued as they came up just short in a sun-kissed Viking Stadion this evening.

It was a bright start to the qualifying campaign with wins over Northern Ireland and Slovakia and a famous draw with European champions The Netherlands in Nijmegen to cap 2017, but 2018 has been frustrating.

They did beat Slovakia 2-1 in Tallaght in April but it’s been three defeats in-a-row since then to end their chances of qualification.

Back-to-back 2-0 losses to the Dutch and Norwegians again in Dublin saw the possibilities greatly reduced but the final blow was struck this evening with the play-off route completely ruled out.

Norway piled the pressure on right from the get-go in front of 3,609 fans, their dominance shining through as Ireland were left to chase the game from the 24th minute.

Claire O’Riordan, who was making her first senior competitive start in the green jersey, was adjudged to have taken Caroline Graham Hansen down in the area and conceded a penalty.

Louise Quinn dejected after the game Source: Andrew Halseid Budd/INPHO

Hansen then stepped up to cooly slot home and give the hosts the lead that looked imminent, but to Ireland’s credit they never gave up and their work-rate could not be faulted.

There were some nervy moments between Marie Hourihan and the Ireland defence, but the goalkeeper did well and made some crucial saves to ensure the deficit stayed at 1-0.

Louise Quinn, who played with a mask after sustaining a fractured nose last time out, was also immense, leading the charge from the back.

Either side of the break, Ireland had some bright moments as Leanne Kiernan and Denise O’Sullivan were among those to cause problems but they just couldn’t find that all-important breakthrough.

Herlovsen, at the other end, was dangerous while one of Ireland’s best efforts of the game came in the 61st minute through O’Sullivan. The ball landed to the North Carolina Courage star on the edge of the box but her effort sailed just over.

Amber Barrett dejected after the game Source: Andrew Halseid Budd/INPHO

As Norway introduced fresh legs, Bell decided to wait until the 81st minute to call in reinforcements. Amber Barrett and Rianna Jarrett came in for Megan Connolly and Leanne Kiernan as they went in search of crucial goals, but it was too little, too late.

They were lucky not to concede a second penalty as Hourihan collided with Herlovsen in a one-on-one, but the score remained 1-0 as Ireland pushed for one last effort.

It came as Quinn found captain Katie McCabe in the box, but her shot on the spin went straight for Hjelmseth, who kept it out on the stroke of 93 minutes.

Although the World Cup dream is over, Ireland have one fixture to fulfill — they face The North in August.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Marie Hourihan; Sophie Perry-Campbell, Claire O’Riordan, Louise Quinn, Aine O’Gorman (Isibeal Atkinson 88); Denise O’Sullivan, Karen Duggan, Tyler Toland, Megan Connolly (Amber Barrett 81), Katie McCabe (c); Leanne Kiernan (Rianna Jarrett 81).

NORWAY: Ingrid Hjelmseth; Ingrid Wold, Maren Mjelde (c), Maria Thorisdotti, Emilie Haavi; Caroline Graham Hansen, Frida Maanum (Boe Risa 64), Ingrid Syrstad Engen, Guro Reiten; Isabell Herlovsen (Skinnes Hansen 93), Lisa-Marie Utland (Elise Thorsnes 61).

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Emma Duffy

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