Victory over Australia a timely fillip for Vera Pauw and Ireland

Lucy Quinn’s impressive debut increases options for World Cup clash against Sweden

 Louise Quinn celebrates scoring the Republic of Ireland’s winner against Australia at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Louise Quinn celebrates scoring the Republic of Ireland’s winner against Australia at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

In a prescient moment on Monday evening, Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw clicked her fingers: “The moment will be there that it turns around and we start to score goals.”

How about turning it around against Australia, Pauw was asked, or does she exist in the same head space as male counterpart Stephen Kenny, in that performances currently trump results?

“Performance is result.”

As the seconds ticked down in Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday night the FAI were presented with compelling evidence that sustained investment in women’s soccer will yield a mighty return. Of the 4,000 tickets, 3,341 were sold for this flag-planting 3-2 victory over the Olympic semi-finalists, with all the noise being generated by young girls.

Hundreds of them crammed along the advertising hoardings after Katie McCabe’s team turned over The Matildas.

Mary Fowler was among the players seeking out family. Fowler is so talented and was so furiously pursued by Pauw that Australia capped her at age 15 in 2018.

After scoring two goals and threatening to ruin this famous night for Ireland with almost every touch of the ball, the teenager embraced her granddad. Kevin Fowler, who hails from Ballymun, took her jersey before planting a kiss on the Montpellier striker’s cheek in a moment captured by Sportsfile’s Stephen McCarthy.

“A shame eh?” said Pauw of Ireland losing the female equivalent of Jack Grealish. “We were very close. Her father flew in, we had a very good meeting.”

Fowler’s decision was a no-brainer; compete for an Olympic medal and play at a home World Cup in 2023 or declare for a debt-ridden, rudderless FAI.

“That is sport and she is right to choose what is best for her. She has a huge career in front of her but, unfortunately, not for us.”

At least Lucy Quinn now has an Irish passport. The bustling 27-year-old English-born striker made an immediate impact on her debut, even overruling her captain to create Ireland’s opening goal.

“Not many players would take a free-kick off Katie McCabe,” said match winner Louise Quinn. “She’s just come into the squad, raring to go. She has a voice too, not afraid to put an opinion in. That’s exactly what we need, leaders on the pitch. She’s been waiting for this moment for a long time and scores within three minutes. It’s unbelievable.”

It goes down as an own goal by Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold as much as Fowler and Denise O’Sullivan can claim their goals despite wild deflections.

Both Quinns, Lucy and Louise, are recent additions to the growing Irish cohort at Birmingham City. They even live together.

Great tactics

“It’s a mad house but the atmosphere is brilliant. It’s football all day long. Now, we’re just known as the Quinns. It’s great to have that Irish contingent. Playing together will only do good for Birmingham and Ireland.”

This battling victory over Australia helps to prepare Ireland for Tokyo silver medallists Sweden, who visit fortress Tallaght for the opening World Cup qualifier on October 21st.

“They’re just a well-drilled team,” continued Quinn, who has particular knowledge of Swedish football having spent three seasons at Eskilstuna United.

“When I was playing over there, you didn’t even have to look where you playing your passes because you knew where your team-mates were going to be.

“Sweden will have those similarities and great tactics. We’ve looked at Australia versus Sweden [in the Olympic semi-final] because we were concentrating on this game but you always have got to know what’s coming as well.

“I think we’ve just set ourselves up nicely and given ourselves confidence. I’m sure the other teams are looking at it as well and will be surprised, but that’s what we’re capable of.”

Realistically, Ireland and Finland, who meet in Helsinki on October 26th, are fighting for the playoff spot to reach the 2023 finals Down Under.

“At this moment, it’s about making sure we at least get that second spot. That’s where we’re going. And when we’re playing the likes of Sweden, we’ve to try to steal something. Playing like we did against Australia always gives us hope.”

Pauw no fan of biennial World Cup

Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw has strongly criticised moves by Fifa to stage the World Cup every two years instead of four.

“That is only for the confederations who do not have a good confederations cup, but for Europe it’s a disaster,” said Pauw following Ireland’s 3-2 victory over Australia at Tallaght stadium.

“It’s already too crowded. The Champions League is taking slots away from us so the top, top level, they will benefit. For the second-level [countries], like us, trying to get to the top, that is a disaster. It will break the development of the game and the gap will grow.”

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