TV View: Umbrellas prove ineffective as Irish goals rain down in Tallaght

Pundits predicted a win for Republic of Ireland – but nowhere near the 11-0 win that transpired

Saoirse Noonan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring her side’s ninth goal during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Qualifier group A match between Ireland and Georgia at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Saoirse Noonan of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring her side’s ninth goal during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Qualifier group A match between Ireland and Georgia at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

 

Tallaght on a soggy Tuesday night on the last day of November – it wasn’t for the glamour that these Irish players took up their profession. Most of them, as they tried to remain upright during the squall that accompanied the anthems, were possibly ruing not pursuing snooker, darts, badminton or anything indoors at all.

Worse, they were going into a contest that they were expected to win at a canter, what with Georgia being ranked behind the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and only just head of the Kyrgyz Republic and Mongolia.

Lisa Fallon talked of the pressure of such occasions, Irish teams – you know yourself – not generally overly keen on being expected to pulverise their opponents, way happier not being given a hope in Hades of emerging from a battle with anything more than nothing.

Mind you, it was exceptionally difficult to concentrate on Lisa’s thoughts because the battle she, Peter Collins and Karen Duggan were waging with their umbrellas pitch-side was so absorbing and intense, the sole focus was on who’d be Mary Poppins-ised first.

“A rather soft evening,” Peter confirmed, himself and his panellists briefly disappearing behind a severely smudged lens while the cameraperson tried to find a dry hankie.

Less predictable

Teams news. As most of us expected, Georgia went with Sukhashvili, Khaburdzania, Tatuashvili, Sutidze, Kalandadze, Danelia, Tsotseria, Pasikashvili, Cheminava, Bebia and Tchkonia.

Ireland’s line-up, though, was less predictable, Vera Pauw making four changes to the team that lost 1-1 to Slovakia. “I think it’s 3-4-2-1,” said Tony O’Donoghue, the chief hope being that it wouldn’t be 4-McCabe-4-1, the where-should-Katie-be-deployed debate raging on.

“The good news,” said Tony, “is that it’s not as cold as it was last Thursday. But with the wind, it’s important who wins the toss.” Indeed, Courtney Brosnan’s first kick-out almost landed in Santa’s grotto in The Square.

Prediction time. “They won’t have any difficulty tonight,” said Karen, fate-tempting, opting for a 4-0 win. (For Ireland, that is). “At least 3-0,” said Lisa.

How they couldn’t see an 11-0 win coming we’ll never know, the night that was in it blowing those record 9-0 wins over Malta (2003) and Montenegro (2016) out of the water.

Republic of Ireland’s players celebrate with a record scoreline in the background at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Republic of Ireland’s players celebrate with a record scoreline in the background at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

“The scoreline isn’t great for them,” said Stephanie Roche when the 11th went in, the night’s most understated take on what Georgia had endured, a heap of their grief inflicted by the wand that is McCabe’s left foot and Denise O’Sullivan’s happy knack of knowing where the goal is.

“It’s dreamland in Tallaght,” said George Hamilton, and that was only after the ninth and 10th went in, the scorers former Gaelic football net-busters Saoirse Noonan and Amber Barrett, Cork and Donegal possibly texting “COME HOME” to the pair of them as we speak.

Castigatory columns

“It’s hard to believe that Sweden only beat them 4-0,” said Lisa at half-time, and, lest we forget, it took them – the second-ranked team on the planet! – 40 minutes to break Georgia down, their last two goals not coming ’til the final six minutes. So think on that, ye folk about to pen castigatory columns on the state of women’s international football. (Breaking: England 20, Latvia 0. Strewth.)

“Be ruthless,” Lisa urged Ireland as they took to the field for the second half. “All right, then,” they replied, and off they went.

When Lucy Quinn made it 3-0, it was only the second time that a striker had scored from open play in Pauw’s 11 competitive games in charge, the first coming from Barrett in the dim and distant past of November 2019. You take that kind of joy where you can find it, no matter the opposition.

“This was a poor Georgia team, so we have to keep that context on it,” said Lisa, Karen not disagreeing. But, “they did what they needed to do tonight, and they did it in some style.”

That they did. “It helps the goal difference massively,” said Lisa, the updated table confirming as much, Ireland up to second, a point ahead of Finland, making the prospect of next year’s final four group games a tingly one.

Sweden and Georgia away, Finland at home (the biggie), finishing up with Slovakia away. The nerves will be shredded. But it’ll be a blast.

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