Áine O’Gorman looking to end on high against Germany after Ukraine low

‘We all came off massively disappointed, I took a lot of that weight on my own shoulders’

Ireland’s Áine O’Gorman in action against  Nicole Kozlova of Ukraine during the  European Championship qualifier at the  Obolon Arena in Kiev. Photograph:  Aleksandar Djorovic/Inpho

Ireland’s Áine O’Gorman in action against Nicole Kozlova of Ukraine during the European Championship qualifier at the Obolon Arena in Kiev. Photograph: Aleksandar Djorovic/Inpho

 

Given the group standings, losing was a blow to an entire team but Áine O’Gorman describes Ireland’s defeat by Ukraine last month as a career low.

“It’s obviously going to be with me forever,” says the Peamount player ahead of a game in which she and the rest of Vera Pauw’s squad can make amends for a missed opportunity that didn’t just come down to one misplaced back pass.

Beating Germany next Tuesday seems a long shot but it must be done if Ireland are to make the playoffs now. The group leaders arrive with seven wins from seven, 43 goals scored without reply but if Ireland don’t take three points and Ukraine beating Montenegro (one goal scored, 26 in reply) it will be enough for them to take second place.

Nobody is making any bones about the fact that it all looks a little implausible. Like O’Gorman, though, they remain adamant that it is not impossible.

“It [Kiev] was probably the lowest point in my career to date if I am honest about it,” says the 31-year-old. “It was a really tough one to take. We all came off massively disappointed and I took a lot of that weight on my own shoulders as well.

“I was just making a recovery run,” she says of the incident that handed the home side their winning goal, and I was trying to play it to the goalkeeper [Courtney Brosnan, who didn’t exactly come out of it all looking blameless] and then I just seen it going into the goal and it was like slow motion.

“At that moment I just wanted the ground to open up and gobble me up and throw me away. Megan Connolly came up to me and said, ‘come on, Áine, we need you now’. I just had to put it behind me, keep going and stick to the task. Try to stay positive and get back in the game which unfortunately we didn’t.

“I did talk about it [later]. It was obviously eating away at me, even when I got home after a really long flight back. It’s eating away at you for days and you just can’t wait to get back playing and put it to the back of your mind. It’s obviously going to be with me forever and it is all about how you react now.

“The girls have been a great support around the camp and Vera gave me a call as well. Stuff like that. You’re obviously never going to forget it so it is just about moving forward and with my club team I was fortunate that we had the Glasgow game [in the Champions League] and they are a good bunch of girls to be around as well. So, talking about it and then just trying to leave it behind. It’s done and we need to bounce back with a good performance against Germany.”

Among the more positive scenarios is that the eight times European Champions might ease up a little now that qualification is so comprehensively in the bag but O’Gorman isn’t buying that, even if she isn’t completely sold on the notion that outcome is already as good as decided.

“We are playing on home soil and I don’t think there is any massive pressure on us going into the game,” she says. “We are going to go out with a clear game plan. We are up against it. But hopefully we can just go out, give the best performance we can and see where it takes us.

“I think first it’s trying to keep a clean sheet. But just being brave and having no fear to get on the ball and get forward and take chances. If we don’t take chances we are not going to score. That’s just the mentality and the mindset and it’s something that we will look towards. Vera does say, don’t have the fear of failure and get on the ball, because we have so much quality and goalscorers in the team.

“Every single player on the pitch and everyone around the ground will have to be up for it. We have to leave nothing behind. And look, football is a strange game and anything can happen.”

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