UEFA Nations League: Republic of Ireland 3 - 0 Northern Ireland
Macdara Ferris reports from the Aviva Stadium
The Girls in Green won their first competitive game since the World Cup play-off win in Scotland by defeating a very average Northern Ireland 3-0 at the Aviva Stadium.
Goals from Lucy Quinn, Kyra Carusa and Lily Agg were the difference in a very one side match.
The win is a good start in the UEFA Nations League for the Girls in Green especially with this competition playing a pivotal role in qualifying for the next Euros.
Northern Ireland made it to the previous European Championship tournament but are off that level since then dropping to 47th in the FIFA rankings.
This was the first match of the post Vera Pauw era, and it took place at a new venue in a new competition for the Ireland women’s team.
But Ireland carried momentum through from the World Cup.
The novelty factor of this UEFA Nations League debut was added to with ‘God save the King’ ringing out around an Aviva Stadium that included over 1,000 away fans with the overall crowd a record 35,994.
Interim Ireland boss Eileen Gleeson did not rip up the script but made four changes from the Girls in Green’s last game – the scoreless World Cup draw with Nigeria.
Three of the changes were injury enforced with the re-introduction of Tyler Toland grabbing the headlines. Celtic defender Caitlin Hayes also made her debut.
Toland was excellent alongside Megan Connolly who moved back to her more normal centre midfield position.
However it was the Hoops player who looks a great addition to Ireland team.
Celtic defender Hayes’ presence in the back three, her positioning and her passing were a highlight during a fairly low key first half.
The visitors, who also are under new management with Tanya Oxtoby, offered very little going forward.
The former Chelsea assistant manager will have been reasonably pleased with how her team defended the five first half corners – however not the one her team conceded from.
First Shannon Turner turned behind a powerful Hayes header from a Lucy Quinn corner from the left but from the resulting McCabe set piece from the right on the half hour mark the home team took the lead.
The corner wasn’t cleared effectively coming into the path of Lucy Quinn on the edge of the area.
She drilled a low shot that took at touch off Rachel Furness to fire Ireland into the lead in the match and lifted the decibel levels at the Aviva Stadium.
The Birmingham City attacker almost got her second a minute before the break.
Ireland skipper McCabe, deployed in a left wing back role, had jinked one way then the other to get a cross over to Denise O'Sullivan at the back post.
When the ball ran to Lucy Quinn her shot hit the target but Sarah McFadden was back on the line to clear.
Five minutes after the restart another goal line clearance saved the Girls in Green and White. It was Demi Vance who prevented her team going two behind.
Kyra Carusa picked the pocket of Rebecca Halloway and her close range shot from an acute angle took a touch going through Shannon Turner's legs to enable Vance to just about clear.
Twenty minutes from time, Ireland got their second as Carusa exploited a dreadful error at the back.
A long clearance upfield from McCabe should have been dealt with by Rebecca Holloway.
But with Turner racing out of her goal, Holloway didn't get a decent touch on the ball when she tried to clear.
That allowed Carusa to settle and slot home from 35 yards or so into the empty net.
Five minutes from time substitute Lily Agg scored off another McCabe corner.
Her powerfully directed downward header had the pace to get through Demi Vance's legs on the line to go in off the post.
Republic of Ireland W: Courtney Brosnan; Caitlin Hayes, Diane Caldwell (Izzy Atkinson 89), Louise Quinn; Heather Payne (Abbie Larkin 59), Megan Connolly (Lily Agg 82), Tyler Toland, Katie McCabe; Denise O'Sullivan; Kyra Carusa (Emily Whelan 89), Lucy Quinn (Amber Barrett 83).
Subs not used: Grace Moloney, Megan Walsh, Chloe Mustaki, Claire O'Riordan, Jamie Finn, Eabha O'Mahony, Marissa Sheva.
Northern Ireland W: Shannon Turner; Abbie Magee, Sarah McFadden, Demi Vance; Caragh Hamilton, Rachel Furness (Chloe McCarron 82), Joely Andrews, Marissa Callaghan © (Nadene Caldwell 72), Rebecca Holloway (Laura Rafferty 82); Simone Magill, Emily Wilson (Lauren Wade 72).
Subs not used: Lilie Woods, Rachael Norney, Kirsty McGuinness, Ellie Mason, Caitlin McGuinness, Kerry Anne Beattie, Rebecca McKenna, Megan Bell.
Booked: Rebecca Holloway (22).
Referee: Hristiyana Guteva (Bulgaria).
extratime.com Player of the Match: Caitlin Hayes (Republic of Ireland).