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Huge Helsinki Win Shows The Amazing Progression Of Vera Pauw's Ireland

Huge Helsinki Win Shows The Amazing Progression Of Vera Pauw's Ireland
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Ireland took a crucial win in Helsinki on Tuesday night, winning 2-1 against a Finland team placed eight spots above them in the world rankings.

It was a huge win in Ireland's World Cup qualification campaign, and after the match manager Vera Pauw asserted that her Ireland team were more than capable of reaching the 2023 finals.

Finland win a massive step forward for Vera Pauw and Ireland

Thus far for Vera Pauw and Ireland, it has been a case of "so near, yet so far". An encouraging EURO 2022 qualifying campaign ultimately ended in disappointment after defeats to Ukraine and Germany late in the campaign left Ireland just outside of the qualification spots.

There have been bright spots, which have hinted at the steady progress the team has made under Pauw, like the friendly win over Australia last month. But Tuesday's win in Helsinki was the biggest sign yet that this team are ready to reach a major tournament for the first time.

To get out of this group will be a mighty challenge for Ireland - but they impressed against Sweden in Thursday's opener to World Cup qualifying. The Swedes - ranked 2nd in the world - only took a narrow 1-0 win thanks to an own-goal, showing that Ireland are capable of holding their own with the world's best.

Finally, on Tuesday night, a sign that they can beat them. Finland may not contend for a World Cup or EUROs crown, but they are a strong side - especially on their own turf. At least a point in Helsinki would be a huge step towards Australia and New Zealand in 2023 - and goalscorers Megan Connolly and Denise O'Sullivan gave Vera Pauw managed to bring home three.


Post-match, manager Vera Pauw spoke to RTÉ - and she had immense pride in her players, not only for their performance, but their attitude. She singled out the response to the Finnish equaliser as a particular mark of how good the Irish performance and attitude had been.



It's amazing - this was not our most beautiful game, but our most effective game!

You see the way they dig in and to have the discipline to play that style when we need it, it is amazing. You can only say that all those defeats that we had with all those high-ranked teams - without those defeats we would not have been able to do this.

We said "we need things to turn around, the luck needs to come our way." We had a few times of luck - if you can score immediately after having received a goal, that is fantastic. That means that this team is so flexible in their attitude.

It gives us such a boost that we can get out of this group. We can! Many games to go, many difficult games to go, because Slovakia is also a very difficult - and even Georgia. But it's a good boost, and next month we have the next games.

Indeed, Finland were only level for four minutes before Denise O'Sullivan put the girls in green back in front. With a big crowd at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, and the pressure on Pauw's team, they didn't buckle - rather, they rose to the occasion.

Pauw is right. Beating Finland is only step one for Ireland, and tough games lie ahead. But, two games into the qualification campaign, with an away win against their main rivals for second place, and an impressive performance against the world's second-best team under their belts, Ireland will fear no one in their group for the rest of the campaign.


It was a truly special night in Helsinki for the Irish women - and we expect that there may well be two more sell-outs in Tallaght when they take on Slovakia and Georgia at the end of November.

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