Gary Connaughton reporting from Tallaght Stadium
On the surface, a 3-0 defeat at home to France is a rather deflating way for Ireland to go into their journey to Australia for the World Cup later this month. The manner in which they conceded some of the goals will have have disappointed Vera Pauw and her coaching staff, while a loss was not the way they wanted their final game in front of the fans before the tournament to go.
In saying that, the team will take some encouragement from some aspects of their performance. In the first 40 minutes or so, they were well on top and played some of the must succinct attacking football that we have seen from them in quite some time. All of this was being done against a team ranked fifth in the world, one with real ambitions of winning the World Cup.
Indeed, Ireland could well have taken the lead during that period if it were not for a questionable offside decision.
Ireland have the ball in the net, but the offside flag goes up after Kyra Carusa’s tidy finish
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Kyra Carusa was the player that put the ball in the back of the net, although the strike would be chalked off despite the fact that replays showed she had not strayed beyond the last defender. It is a passage of play that she has taken encouragement from, with the American-born forward impressed with a number of aspects of her team's play in that opening half:
I would say that I was 100 per cent onside! I know sometimes as a striker you’re walking the tight rope, you’re playing as tight as you can. I haven’t seen it yet, I know that’s what I’ve been told.
As a striker, I’m always onside...
I think that out there, especially in the first 45 minutes, there was so much that I was so impressed with with the girls on this team and the way that we have changed our style of play and trusting with each other.
I even said today with Marissa [Sheva], I think it’s so important to have linkup play with me and the midfielders. I was so impressed with how much we trusted each other and where we could find each other in pockets before we were even there. You feel that, it’s palpable on a pitch.
Those first 25 minutes, we were high up the field and made France uncomfortable. That is testament to how we as a team have grown so much, how we have trusted each other and developed this style of play.
Kyra Carusa wants Ireland superpower unlocked at World Cup
The centre forward position is one Ireland have struggled with in recent years, especially during the early days of Vera Pauw's reign. Numerous players were tried in that position, none of whom ever really managed to nail down a spot in the starting XI.
While her own international career has only just reached double digit caps, Carusa is the player that looks most likely to put her hand up for selection moving forward. She was very impressive in the France game despite the result, being named as the Irish player of the match.
She looks all but certain to start the World Cup opener against Australia, another game where the team will face top class opposition.
Ireland's results against that type of opponent have actually been very good over the last few years, and considering the type of occasion that fixture will be in front of 80,000 supporters in Sydney, it is expected that they will give an excellent account of themselves.
At least a point will be needed from the games against Australia or Canada if they are to have any chance of progressing from the group, with many viewing the fixture against the Matildas as their best opportunity of getting it.
Karusa believes it is a scenario that she and her teammates will thrive in.
We want this. We want to thrive in this and we have to thrive in this.
We have to remember we are Ireland. Every opponent is looking at us and thinking they're going to get points off us. We have to thrive on that. That has to become our superpower.
I really do think, this team especially, that is ingrained in us - that grind and grit...
We want to make every team as uncomfortable as possible but also we want to thrive in that uncomfortableness as well. A team like France, they're not used to being put on the back foot. They're not used to not having control of the game.
When a team wants to make us uncomfortable, when a team thinks 'oh we've really kept the ball, we've moved it around the back', we just sit there and go, 'this is great, keep doing it'. Almost patronisingly.
You need to be like that, you need to be crazy like that. It's a World Cup, anything can happen. And those teams are the ones who come out and surprise everybody.
That is the type of attitude this Ireland team are going to have to possess if they are to harbour hopes of making a run in this tournament.
Considering the obstacles they have overcome in recent years, you wouldn't bet against them doing so.