Local football star Katie McCabe had a truly memorable beginning to her career as Ireland captain last night as the Girls in Green got their World Cup 2019 qualifying campaign off to a flyer with victory over Northern Ireland.
The 21-year-old Kilnamanagh native, who was given the captaincy last month by new manager Colin Bell following the retirement of legend goalkeeper Emma Byrne, led by example in Mourneview Park, Lurgan as her team claimed all three points with an impressive display.
As third seeds, Ireland are in tough group with European champions the Netherlands, Norway, Northern Ireland and Slovakia so the pressure was on to win last night as only group winners qualify automatically with the four best runners-up going into play-offs for the finals in France in two years.
The Girls in Green started like they meant business as they bossed their hosts around for the first 45 minutes.
Their dominance finally paid off as they took the lead right on half time when Northern Ireland’s Rachel Furness scored an own goal.
It was no more than the Republic deserved and the second half began in much the same vein.
The highly impressive Megan Campbell topped off a great personal performance by killing off the hosts with a brilliant strike mid way through the half.
The visitors comfortably saw out the last 20 minutes and the only major incident to cause them alarm was an injury to Stephanie Roche which saw her stretchered off.
Gaffer Colin Bell was delighted to get a win in his first competitive match and was full of praise for his team.
“It was a great performance from the team and I’m delighted to be going home with the points.
“We could have scored a few more goals than we did but we’ve learnt a lot from tonight’s game and I’m sure we’ll continue to improve as the campaign continues.”
Ireland’s next qualifier is away to Slovakia on October 24th.
ROI: Hourihan, Scott, Caldwell, Quinn, Campbell, Duggan Fahey, O’Gorman, O’Sullivan, Roche, McCabe
NI: Perry, Newborough, Foy, Montgomery, Nelson, Hutton, Milligan, Callaghan, Magill, Furness, McMullan