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Glory night for Ireland as World Cup play-off place is sealed in Tallaght

Substitute Lily Agg was the hero as Ireland secured a valuable win in front of a record attendance of 6,952 at the Tallaght Stadium.

Louise Quinn, right, and Megan Connolly of Republic of Ireland celebrate after the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualifier match between Republic of Ireland and Finland at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Irish captain Katie McCabe could not hold back her emotions as she toasted one of the great nights in Irish soccer as Vera Pauw’s Girls in Green secured a 1-0 win against second seeds Finland to secure a place in the World Cup play-offs.

Substitute Lily Agg was the hero as Ireland secured a valuable win in front of a record attendance of 6,952 at the Tallaght Stadium.

Agg provided the moment the Dublin crowd had waited for from a 54th-minute free-kick.

Finland’s marking left a lot to be desired and Agg, who had replaced Ruesha Littlejohn five minutes before the break, made no mistake with her free header.

Denise O’Sullivan and Louise Quinn had earlier gone close to breaking the deadlock.

Finland created few chances during a tense encounter, although home goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan came to her side’s rescue in the first half.

The Republic – third seeds when the draw was made in April 2021 – travel to Slovakia for their final qualifier on Tuesday with second place behind group winners Sweden guaranteed.

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“We stood together back then as a team,” said McCabe.

“It opened a lot of people’s eyes to who we are and what we represent and how we can inspire young girls.

“I think it was obviously a working relationship with the FAI back then, but everything is perfect now, they support us in everything we do. Even having our sponsors on board - Sky, Cadburys and everything else - it’s so good.

“It puts us in the eyes of the kids, the visibility, it’s everything. I’m obviously delighted. We don’t have to worry about anything, any working conditions.

We’ve got the full support of the FAI and in my opinion we’ve got a great relationship, which is fantastic.

“It goes to show, obviously, when all that is sorted we can just concentrate on getting our job done on the pitch, and we’ve got a play-off tonight.

"Before the campaign we played a lot of higher-ranked opposition to try and prepare us for these kind of stress scenario game situations.

"I think we showed that, obviously. We’ve beaten Finland twice now and we got the draw away to Sweden. We want to compete with these big nations and make sure we’re at major tournaments going forward.

"We didn’t play particularly well tonight but honestly, I couldn’t care less. We’ve got the three points and that’s the main thing. We’ve got a play-off to a World Cup."

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