The Game Of Their Lives

The world was a very different place in October 2019. For one thing there wasn’t a global pandemic, and Ireland weren’t in a level 5 lockdown.

But a bit over a year ago was when the Ireland senior women’s football team really boosted their chances of qualifying for a first ever major tournament. They’ve made 10 previous attempts at qualifying for the Euros, and 7 at qualifying for the World Cup, yet they’ve never been on the big stage. But a win in front of a record breaking crowd in Tallaght changed all that.

Goals from captain Katie McCabe and a first senior international goal for Rianna Jarrett put Ireland in front. Ukraine pegged them back, but an own goal sent Ireland top of the group.

Since then Germany have, as expected, taken top spot. They’ve yet to concede a goal in the qualifying campaign. They are almost certain to take the automatic spot.

Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan celebrates her team’s third goal. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Ireland beat Ukraine 3-2 last October (Image: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho)

Ireland now face Ukraine in the return game, knowing a draw will guarantee them at least a play-off, which will take place over two legs next April. It could get better however, as a win would put them in contention for one of 3 automatic qualification spots as a best runners-up.

While at times finishing has left something to be desired, Ireland have only really failed to get the result they deserve once/ They drew away to Greece thanks to a 93rd minute equalizer. There were chances in that game to seal the win, they weren’t taken, and Ireland were stung. Equally there were chances in the return fixture against Greece to increase the lead, in what ended up being a nervy 1-0 win. Ireland also struggled to build a lead at times against lowly Montenegro.

But it’s important to point out that those complaints show how far Ireland have come. In the past Ireland were also-rans in a qualifying group, possibly getting a few points. Now Ireland are genuine contenders to qualify for a major tournament. So much so that it would be disappointing if they didn’t. That is unprecedented.

There’s plenty of talent in the team. Just last week world class midfielder Denise O’Sullivan, captain Katie McCabe, and Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney made the WSL team of the week over in England. McCabe, one of many leaders in the team, scored a belter of a freekick for Arsenal.

Elsewhere there is talent all over the pitch. Megan Connolly has been super for Brighton, and Rianna Jarrett, her club teammate, has proven to be a valuable workhorse, and has shown in her time in the Women’s National League she is a clinical finisher and a leader on the pitch. Aine O’Gorman has been scoring whenever she wants in the WNL. This is an Ireland team capable of getting a win here, never mind the draw they need.

We spoke about the game on this weeks women’s football edition of Peil and Back, which you can listen to here, or on Spotify below. It’s also available on most other podcast platforms (Apple, Pocket Casts, Player FM, etc) by searching Post to Post Sport.

The game is live on RTÉ, kick off is at 5pm. We’ll have analysis on next weeks Women’s Football episode of Peil and Back.

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UCL LiveBlog: Group Stage Night 2

Night two of the Champions League Group Stages, we’ll see the other 16 teams in action.

Earlier Results:

Real Madrid 2-3 Shaktar Donetsk

RB Salzburg 2-2 Lokomotiv Moscow

First big shock of the tournament came earlier with Shaktar beating Real. Real were 0-3 down, but scored 2 2nd half goals and had a 3rd disallowed.

Tonights Fixtures

Ajax v Liverpool

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid

Inter v Monchengladbach

Man City v Porto

Midtjylland – Atalanta

Olympiacos – Marseille

Liverpool last played Ajax in the European Cup in 1966. A certain Johan Cruyff played that day. It real feels like we were robbed of that Champions League final in 2019.

Midtylland make their Champions League debut tonight.

Games have all kicked off, we’ll have updates throughout.

GOAL Porto: Winger Luiz Diaz has put Porto ahead against a strong Man City team. 0-1

Bayern won all 11 of their Champions League games last season. They arewithout Sane and Gnabry in their bid to make it 12. Atleti are without Costa, Giminez, and Niguez. Muller has just been booked for a perfectly fine challenge.

GOAL Man City: Aguero equalizes from the penalty spot. 1-1

GOAL Atalanta: One of the most exciting teams in Italy are off the mark. Zapata puts Atalanta ahead after a strong start. This could be an occasion to build up a good goal difference, and it could come down to that in a bid to qualify. 0-1.

GOAL Bayern Munich: He scored the winner in the final and he’s done it again. A calm finish after Kimmich did well to win the ball back.

Atleti were coming into the game there but Bayern as they so often do picked them off.

GOAL Atalanta: Gomez makes it 2. Could have been 1-1 but Sportiello made a fantastic save. 0-2.

GOAL Liverpool: OG, deflects off Tagliafico and goes in. 0-1

GOAL Bayern Munich: Goretzka, nothing Oblak could do about either goal. 2-0

GOAL Atalanta: Muriel scores, this is going to be a debut hammering for the Danish side. 0-3

HUGE Chance for Ajax. Neres played a beautiful ball to Tadic who tries to lob Adrian, not enough on it and Fabinho clears off the line.

HT Scores

Ajax 0-1 Liverpool

Bayern Munich 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Inter 0-0 Monchengladbach

Man City 1-1 Porto

Midtjyland 0-3 Atalanta

Olympiacos 0-0 Marseille

Ajax unlucky to be behind, Munich dominant, Atalanta well on top.

2nd halves underway.

GOAL Inter: Lukaku makes it 1-0, it’s been coming. 1-0

GOAL Monchengladbach: Bensebaini from the Penalty spot.

Mane has gone off for Liverpool, he’s getting ice on his leg. Possibly more injury concerns for the Premier League champions. Salah and Firmino also going off.

GOAL Bayern: Tolisso with an absolute rocket. Oblak is one of the best keepers in the world, but he couldn’t do anything about any of the 3 goals tonight. 3-0

GOAL Man City: Gundogan’s freekick goes straight in. 2-1

GOAL Bayern: Game well and truly over with Coman’s second. 4-0

GOAL Man City: Torres slots home, that should be that.

Drama between Inter and Monchengladbach. Martinez hits the post for the home side, the rebound led to calls of a handball, Monchengaldbach went on the break and Handanovic flew out of his net and put in a dirty challenge. Just a yellow. VAR checked both cases but didn’t overrule anything. Still 1-1.

GOAL Monchengladbach: More drama. Cool finish by Hofmann to turn this game around. Inter have fallen apart since taking the lead. VAR took an age checking it to see if there was an offside. The goal is given. 1-2 Monchengladbach.

GOAL Atalanta: Miranchek makes it 4. 0-4.

GOAL Olympiacos: Koka scores in injury time. Valbuena got the assist, he used to play for Marseille.

GOAL Inter: Lukaku scores from a corner. VAR are having a look at it, the Belgian striker looked offside, but did he get a touch? Goal is given. This game has come to life in the final 10 minutes. 6 minutes added on. 2-2.

FT Bayern Munich 4-0 Atletico Madrid: Bayern continue their dominant UCL form, 12 wins in a row now.

FT Midtjyland 0-4 Atalanta: Atalata make it a painful start to life in the Champions League for the Danes.

FT Olympiacos 1-0 Marseille: Late winner for the Greeks.

Fernandinho looks to be injured for Man City.

FT Ajax 0-1 Liverpool: Ajax unlucky not to get something out of the game, Liverpool looked shaky at times.

CLOSE. Martinez was taken down clumsily. From the resulting freekick Kolarov hits the side netting.

FT Inter 2-2 Monchengladbach: A thrilling finish, worth watching back.

FT Man City 3-1 Porto: Not overly convincing from City.

That’s it for our liveblog tonight. We’ll be back with more Champions League next week.