(Credit: Ian Anderson)
The Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s team will conclude their UEFA European Women’s Championship qualifying group with away games against group leaders France and bottom team Israel.
Sue Ronan’s side will play France on Saturday evening in Guingamp at 7:50pm (Irish time) and then travel to Israel for their final Group 4 game on Wednesday week in Ramat Gan at 1pm (Irish time).
Ronan has named a 19 player squad but only 18 will be on duty for each game as Arsenal’s Niamh Fahey is only available for the French game and will be replaced by Fiona O’Sullivan of SC Freiburg for the trip to Israel.
There are several changes from the 20 strong squad named for the June double-header against Scotland and Wales with Rebecca Creagh (Raheny), Sara Lawlor (Peamount) and O’Sullivan coming in for Eve Badana, Ruesha Littlejohn, Michele O’Brien and Cherelle Khassal.
After the disappointment of losing those two games, Ronan is hoping her side can finish on a high but admits it is going to be tough against a French side that have won all six group games to date and need a win on Saturday evening to qualify for next summer’s European finals in Sweden.
“The game against France will be a huge test for us. They are now a top nation and are seeded two in Europe and have all but qualified at this stage. We are down a couple of players but we will be going out to give it a go,” said Ronan, who is concluding her first campaign in charge of the senior women’s team.
While getting a result against a team that has scored 23 goals and conceded just two in winning their six games to date might be a tall order for the Irish women, Ronan is hopeful that the team can finishing their qualifying campaign on a winning note against Israel.
The Israelis are pointless after six games and lost 2-0 to Ireland last October in Tallaght when Denise O’Sullivan and Ciara Grant got the goals.
“I’d be very disappointment if we don’t win the second game against Israel although it is going to be very, very hot out there. We will be missing players for that game because of work commitments but we will be doing all we can to finish on a high,” said Ronan.
Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s Squad: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Grace Moloney (Reading), Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal), Louise Quinn (Peamount United), Megan Campbell (Raheny United), Sophie Perry (Chelsea), Meabh de Burca (Amazon Grimstad), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal), Ciara Grant (Arsenal), Marie Curtin (FK Fortuna), Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United), Aine O’Gorman (Doncaster Belles), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Rebecca Creagh (Raheny United), Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Freiburg), Denise O’Sullivan (Cork Women’s FC), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Sara Lawlor (Peamount United).