Vera Pauw looks forward to big Sweden test after Ireland finish third in Spain

Denise O’Sullivan’s 17th international goal secured 1-0 win over Wales at La Manga

Republic of Ireland 1 Wales 0

The Republic of Ireland finished third at the Pinatar Cup in La Manga, Spain after this competent victory over a poor Welsh outfit.

Denise O’Sullivan’s 17th international goal was created by the Cork No 10’s rapid thinking to pick off a sloppy clearance before unleashing a right foot shot into the top corner.

"Denise is so versatile," said Irish manager Vera Pauw. "We need her to play deeper but she has done really, really well when we need her to play behind the striker. Today showed, yet again, that she is on a very high level."

Besides Kyra Carusa's early miss, having rounded the Welsh goalkeeper Olivia Clarke only to shoot wide, Ireland showed a worrying trait of sitting back and inviting the opposition onto them.

Not that Wales ever looked capable of equalising as Pauw continued to use this tournament to blood talent like Abbie Larkin, with the 16-year-old introduced for Carusa at half-time, as 24 players featured over the three games.

“The key thing for very young players is can they cope with the physical pressure of the opponent and that is what we constantly monitor,” explained Pauw when asked about selection for the World Cup qualifier in Sweden on April 12th.

"Confidence-wise and technically they are very good. On the ball Ellen Molloy is extremely good but defensively she needs to learn a lot because she is playing in midfield.

“The defensive role of the attacking midfielder in the modern game is huge.”

Molloy and Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh were the standout starters during Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Russia, but Pauw considered Shelbourne's Jessica Ziu as the most improved player from this past week in La Manga.

“Everyone can see how well Jessica Ziu is doing at the moment. She really brings another level because she has grown up playing with boys. You can see she never panics.

“We will see if she starts against Sweden, but based on what she showed she is ready for it. We will see whether we go for Jessica or Aine O’Gorman, who has got huge experience, but they are very close to each other.”

IRELAND: Brosnan (Everton); Fahey (Liverpool), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), McCarthy (Galway WFC); Ziu (Shelbourne), O'Sullivan (NC Courage), Littlejohn (Aston Villa), McCabe (Arsenal); Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Carusa (HB Koge), Payne (FS Seminoles).

Subs: Larkin (Shelbourne) for Carusa (half-time), Badana (DLR Waves) for Brosnan, Kiernan (Liverpool) for Payne (both 63), Barrett (FC Koln) for Lucy Quinn (85).

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent

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