Stato: Debut for Niamh Fahey
The Republic of Ireland women’s side had to settle for a draw against tournament hosts, Portugal in the opening game of the 2007 Algarve Cup. Stephanie Curtis had put the Irish in the lead early on but Portugal regrouped and held Noel King’s side to a draw in an exciting encounter.
The Irish started very brightly and pressed the Portuguese from kick-off, after only three minutes, Michele O’Brien latched on to a loose ball at the edge of the box but her effort was straight at Simoes in the Portuguese goal.
The Republic of Ireland were ahead after only seven minutes when Stephanie Curtis intercepted the ball at the edge of the Portuguese box, Curtis dribbled to the six yard box and slotted the ball coolly past the Portugal keeper.
For the rest of the first half, Noel King’s side applied a lengthy period of sustained pressure on their Portuguese counterparts rarely allowing their opponents into the final third of the field and forcing them into long wayward shots.
Portugal should have been all-square five minutes after the re-start, substitute, Neno capitalised on a rebounded shot and her effort just at the edge of the six yard box was screwed wide of Emma Byrne’s goal.
Portugal had their first shot on target after 60 minutes after a rebounded shot fell to Portuguese captain Fernandes at the edge on the six yard box, Irish goalkeeper, Emma Byrne reacted brilliantly to deflect the ball past the post.
Portugal were back in the game after 63 minutes when the Irish needlessly gave away a free kick 20 yards from the Irish goal, Portugal’s Liliana Martins whipped in a high looping ball which evaded everyone in the Irish box and hit the net for an unbelievable finish.
Ireland’s response was instant, as Noel King introduced Claire Scanlon, Olivia O’Toole and Sharon Boyle to push for the winner, Scanlon played a neat one-two with Stephanie Curtis at the edge of Portugal’s box and Curtis’ was unlucky to see her shot edge past the post.
Olivia O’Toole looked very lively when she came off the bench, after 82 minutes, she caused havoc in the Portuguese box when her inviting cross was headed onto the underside of the crossbar by defender, Reis only to see Simoes gratefully scoop the ball off the line.
In the 92nd minute, Stephanie Curtis made an inspiring run down the left wing, her delightful cross picked out the on-rushing Niamh Fahey who came agonisingly close to scoring the winning goal on her senior debut with her shot which went over the bar..
Republic of Ireland manager, Noel King was very satisfied with today’s performance, “This was a very pleasing run out for the girls in this, our first game of 2007, I had the unique opportunity of trying out new players and I am definitely happy with their performance.”
“When Portugal equalised with that freak goal, the reaction I got from the girls was brilliant, I introduced some of our more established players and they really lifted the tempo of the game as they pushed forward for the winner,” he added.
Republic of Ireland
Emma Byrne (Arsenal FC)
Elaine O’Connor (Long Island Lady Riders)
Niamh Fahey (Salthill Devon)
Alisha Moran (New York Athletic Club)
Susan Byrne (St.Johns College)
Diane Caldwell (Hofstra University)
Ciara Grant (Arsenal FC) (C)
Sonya Hughes (New Hampshire Franklin Pierce)
Michele O’Brien (Long Island Lady Riders)
Aine O’Gorman (Stella Maris)
Stephanie Curtis (Bristol Rovers)
Sarah Peters (Michigan Phoenix)
Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal FC)
Sharon Boyle (Raheny United) on for Sonya Hughes, 66 Minutes
Claire Scanlan (Bristol Academy FC) on for Michele O’Brien, 66 Minutes
Denise Thomas (Boston Renegades)
Laura Hislop (New Hampshire Phantoms)
Olivia O’Toole (Raheny) on for Aine O’Gorman, 66 Minutes
Marie Curtin (Hofstra University)
Noelle Murray (Raheny)
Algarve Cup Fixtures
Friday 9th March:
Ireland V Iceland
Estadio Municipal – Lagos, Kick-Off: 18.00 Hrs (Irish Time)
Monday 12th March:
Ireland V Italy
Estadio Dr.Francisco Vieira – Silves, Kick-off: 15.30 Hrs (Irish time)