To say that the start to the qualifiers for Euro 2021 in England has been brilliant for the Republic of Ireland is an understatement. The Girls in Green have won all but one of the first 5 games taking 13 points from a possible 15.
The campaign began at home to group minnows Montenegro who stood 95th in the world rankings at the time, a whopping 63 places behind Ireland. The girls played exceptionally well dominating the game winning 2-0 thanks to Tyler Toland’s first international goal and a well dispatched penalty from captain Katie McCabe.
Next was yet another home game but a crucial one against Ukraine in what was manager Vera Pauw’s first game in charge. And you could see she was having an effect on how Ireland played as they created more chances but there were some defensive frailties which needed to be worked on but alas the Republic held on to win 3-2.
Then it was the first test away from home against a tough Greece team who were potential rivals for the all important second spot in the group standings. Ireland completely dominated and created chances but it was evident that they struggled to finish them as they only managed to score once and were pegged back in stoppage time and the game finished 1-1. It felt like 2 dropped points rather than a point gained.
But there was a chance to make up for the missed opportunity as the return fixture was next up for Ireland at Tallaght Stadium. Ireland fared much better this time around as they again dominated the game in terms of chances created and possession but they were more solid defensively and found the breakthrough in the first half securing a 1-0 win.
And the most recent fixture was away to Montenegro, where a win would see Ireland top the group, having played a game more than Germany. Ireland went on to win this game quite convincingly as Diane Caldwell, Katie McCabe and Denise O’Sullivan scored to give Ireland an important 3 points with a 0-3 win.
With the coronavirus spreading throughout Europe Ireland’s next game away to Germany in April was postponed to be played at a later date but a positive result here would put Ireland in a brilliant position to qualify for their first major tournament.