Despite their 1-0 defeat to Denmark on Thursday the Republic of Ireland ladies will be in good spirits heading into their second friendly of the window Vs Belgium in Brussels at 6:30pm today.
Vera Pauw’s team put on a proactive and hopeful showing in the second half against the Danes who are ranked 16 places above the Girls In Green in the Fifa world rankings.
Everton’s Nicoline Sorensen was to be the difference maker as her strike on goal caused a Grace Molony slip up in the 9th minute to secure the score at 1-0 for the remainder of the game.
Ireland’s closest chance at equalising came in the form of a Katie McCabe wonder strike from 30 yards out but it wasn’t to be as it smashed off the bar and so the home side in Tallaght chalked up their fourth successive defeat.
It isn’t all doom and gloom however as there were plenty of positives to pick out from the match, including the showcasing of the domestic competitions’ talent, with four Women’s National League players (Jamie Finn, Ellen Molloy, Áine O’Gorman and Emily Whelan) having kitted out on the day.
Building towards the 2023 World Cup qualifiers in September, Ireland’s performances in these friendly fixtures may prove vital in preparation for major tournaments.
Manager Pauw attests that her side had plentiful opposition to pick from for the international friendlies this week but that Ireland wanted to continue to improve and push the boundaries of development.
“We wanted to test ourselves. It is important that we continue to grow as a team and that will only happen by playing against top quality opposition on a regular basis,” she says.
“We learnt a lot from the Denmark game and we can be pleased with many aspects of our play. Now we come up against a very good Belgium team and it’s up to us to raise our game and show that we can match them on the pitch.”
Belgium who are ranked 17th in the world in comparison to Ireland’s stance at 31st are no doubt to be another challenge for Vera Pauw’s side, with the last outing between the pair ending in a 1-0 defeat for Ireland in 2019.
The game which is to be broadcast live on RTE player today will be captain McCabe’s 50th appearance in the green shirt. Having made her debut in 2015 against Hungary and dubbed captain two years later at the age of 21, Katie McCabe has become an Irish footballing legend within her semi centennial of displays.
Now age 25, McCabe reflected on the occasion with RTE during the week, remembering her first camp “like it was yesterday.”
“When you think about it like that like where are those 50 games gone!” she says.
Playing every minute of the Girls in Green’s Euro 2022 qualifying campaign last year, it is clear the Arsenal hero is an eminent figure that is only getting started for Ireland.
“She’s the glue in the team,” Pauw says.
“She’s the one who is always bright and energetic and always has energy for everything. She pulls all the others with her.”
With a few changes for the second part of this international double header unfolding as expected, Ruesha Littlejohn comes back into the team after an injury and Courtney Brosnan replaces Moloney in the net.
Belgium coming off the back of their own loss during the week (2-0 defeat to Norway) will be hungry for a result, as will the Irish team who hope to get their first win since the 11th of March last year.
With the nation fixated upon the compelling successes of Irish sports-women this weekend, all eyes will turn to the RTE player and King Baudouin Stadium upon 6:30pm in the hope that the football team can add to the prosperity of accomplishments.
Ireland Vs Belgium is available to watch LIVE on the RTE player. Kick off 6:30pm.