Ireland’s night in Helsinki; Farrell’s November squad fails to reshuffle the deck

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Niamh Fahey celebrates after the Finland win with goal scorer Denise O’Sullivan. Photograph: Kalle Parkkinen/Inpho

Niamh Fahey celebrates after the Finland win with goal scorer Denise O’Sullivan. Photograph: Kalle Parkkinen/Inpho

Ireland’s bid for World Cup qualification is on track after a nervy 1-2 victory over Finland in Helsinki. It was a game in which Ireland were asked to defend for large periods, with skipper Katie McCabe as sensational as ever in her role as wingback, but ultimately goals from Megan Connolly and Denise O’Sullivan were enough to fly home with victory. Ireland now sit three points behind last night’s opponents who currently occupy a play-off spot, albeit Finland have played a game more. As Gavin Cummiskey notes, everything is possible now for the most gifted and clearly most tenacious women’s team the country has ever known. Head coach Vera Pauw was understandably delighted with the result, particularly with a series of inspirational last-minute defensive interventions from her group of ‘tigers.’ Not surprisingly, on a night when Ireland secured their first qualification win of the campaign, the player ratings make for good reading.

Andy Farrell’s November squad is conservative and is too focused on the upcoming fixtures rather than the 2023 World Cup, writes Gordan D’Arcy this morning. Though some young players such as the uncapped Ciarán Frawley and Dan Sheehan have been included, Ireland are not shuffling the deck during this test window in the same manner that other countries would be. It is clear where the priorities lie at the moment: “the makeup of the Irish squad has a whiff of results superseding all other concerns.” Ahead of these Ireland tests, Gerry Thornley tells us how captain Johnny Sexton is raring to go after a quiet international summer.

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