Glory night for Ireland's women as they qualify for the World Cup finals
Vera Pauw’s side beat Scotland 1-0 to reach World Cup finals.
Ireland’s women footballers are going to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year after a night of glory in Glasgow.
Amber Barrett, from the town of Milford in Donegal which is just down the road from sorrowing Creeslough, scored the only goal of the game in the second half of a play-off at Hampden Park against Scotland.
With Iceland losing in one of the earlier play-offs today, a win was needed to guarantee a place Down Under and the Vera Pauw’s heroic team withstood a late Scottish siege to go through.
Ireland got an early break when goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan brilliantly saved a 13th minute Scottish penalty from Caroline Weir.
Niamh Fahey had handled the ball in the area, but Brosnan came to the rescue with a flying parry to her left.
Ireland had their own first half chances to score, twice Sophie Howard took the ball off the Scots’ goal-line as Ireland pressed and Aine O’Gorman had a great chance off a header, but the ball flew over the crossbar when it seemed easier to score.
But it was Barrett who made the vital breakthrough in the 72nd minute, fastening onto a ball from Denise O’Sullivan and calmly sliding the ball to the Scottish net with their entire defence in pursuit of the Donegal girl.
The Irish goal completely changed the dynamic of the game as the complicated play-off system meant Scotland now needed two goals in 20 minutes to stay in the World Cup.
However they never really threatened the Irish goal, with the excellent Weir unable to get on the ball in space for the home team.
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"I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it," said en emotional Pauw.
"How is this possible? I want to say thank you to everyone who supported me through the difficult times. My heart is with the country. I wanted this so much for everybody. I am so proud and have no words. I can’t believe it.
“Preparation is everything. For Courtney to save a penalty was not luck. We knew where it was going. We trained and were ready for every scenario. The way they executed it was not beautiful, but the game plan was successful. I can't believe it.
“It’s amazing. We were missing so many players with injury. They completely bought into the game plan and team. They gave themselves for the country. It’s not that we were the better team on the pitch, but we were the most effective team and wanted it more.
“Amber promised me ‘when I get on, I’ll make that goal.’ The first touch made it all. It was incredible the way she finished it. I am so proud. To me, Courtney Brosnan is the player of the game. She kept us in the game.”
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe hailed her side’s fighting spirit after a 72nd-minute goal from substitute Amber Barrett sent them to the Women’s World Cup finals for the first time in their history.
Barrett’s strike sealed a 1-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park, with results elsewhere confirming the result was enough for McCabe’s side to head to the finals in Australia and New Zealand next year.
The Scots had also started the night hoping to repeat their qualification for the 2019 finals but faced an uphill struggle after Caroline Weir’s early penalty was saved by Courtney Brosnan.
McCabe told BBC Alba: “I’m so proud of the girls’ performance. It wasn’t pretty tonight at all, but it was an unbelievable save from Courtney for the penalty.
“We put our bodies on the line, we worked for each other, we ran for each other, and that’s what this team is all about.
“We’ve got an identity we’ve been working on throughout this campaign. It’s not pretty and it’s not everyone’s favourite style of football, but it works for us and we enjoy it.”
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