Republic of Ireland 1 South Korea 1
The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team produced another excellent performance and result at the Cyprus Cup when they held South Korea, who are ranked 16 places above them in the FIFA World Rankings, to a 1-1 draw this afternoon in Paralimni.
Ireland now go into their final Group 3 game on Monday against Switzerland with an opportunity to win the group if they manage to defeat the Swiss. Switzerland, who are ranked 22nd in the World, came from behind to beat New Zealand 2-1 today.
After going close through Julie Ann Russell and Louise Quinn early on Ireland deservedly took the lead against South Korea on 24 minutes when a Megan Campbell long throw saw Quinn get in front of the goalkeeper and head the ball into the roof of the net from a metre out.
However, they let the South Koreans back into the game on 38 minutes when So Yun Ji twisted and turned in the box before unleashing a right footed shot into the top corner for the equaliser.
Ireland had the more clear-cut chances in the second half with the best falling to Aileen Gilroy near the end but she was denied by a save at full stretch from the Korean goalkeeper Jung Mi Kim.
Ireland manager Sue Ronan was understandably delighted after seeing her side produce another excellent display against top-drawer opponents.
“I’m very happy. It was another very good performance from the team today. I suppose it is a sign of how far we have come in the last year that we are actually coming off the pitch again today a little disappointed we didn’t win the game,” said Ronan whose side drew 0-0 with South Korea in last year’s tournament.
Ireland started with five changes from the team which drew 1-1 with New Zealand on Wednesday with Shannon Smyth, Dora Gorman and Rusesha Littlejohn coming into midfield while up front Stephanie Roche and Siobhan Killeen were introduced. Raheny United goalkeeper Niamh Reid Burke was given her senior international debut at the start of the second half as a substitute for Emma Byrne.
Ireland began the game well and were the best team over the opening 30 minutes. They carved out a great chance after six minutes when Julie Ann Russell found herself with only the goalkeeper to beat but saw her shot blocked. Louise Quinn then headed wide in front of gaping goal but the Swedish-based defender quickly made amends after 24 minutes when she met a long throw from Megan Campbell and headed home from close range. It was her third goal in what was her 25th appearance for Ireland.
The Irish girls lost their way a little in the final 15 minutes of the half and South Korea eventually forced an equaliser in the 38th minutes when striker So Yun Ji sold a couple of dummies inside the box and eventually drilled the ball into the top corner giving Emma Byrne no chance.
In the second half, while South Korea enjoyed the bulk of possession, they struggled to break down a resolute Irish defence in which Quinn and Campbell in the centre were once again outstanding and they created the more clear cut chances with Ruesha Littlejohn testing the Korean keeper with a long range shot before splitting the opposition defence with a pass that teed up substitute Aileen Gilroy who was only denied by a full length save from Jung Mi Kim.
“We took the lead in the first half from a very good set-piece, a throw in by Megan Campbell and Louise Quinn got her head to it. But we should have been at least two if not three ahead at that point. We missed a couple of really good chances,” commented Ronan.
“We got a little sloppy towards the end of the first half, didn’t react to a few things against a very, very good team and conceded a goal just before half-time. But while we were under a lot of pressure in the second half when South Korea turned the screw, and were really moving the ball well and moving it fast and getting into pockets between the lines, I think we coped very well and our goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke, who came on at half time didn’t have a save to make.”
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne (Arsenal) (C); Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Megan Campbell (Florida State University), Sophie Perry (Millwall); Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Dora Gorman (Peamount United), Ruesha Littlejohn (Glasgow City); Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United). Subs Used: Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United) for Byrne (46), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsness),for Gorman (46), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United) for Killeen (66), Aileen Gilroy (Castlebar Celtic) for Russell (78), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City) for Smyth (85). Unused subs: Rachel Graham (Raheny United), Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Emma Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic), Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg).