21.09.2015 at 19:30 Tallaght
Referee: Jana Adamkova.
Emma Koivisto 13 mins,
Linda Sallstrom 71 mins
Meabh De Burca
Katie Mc Cabe
Aine O Gorman
Denise O Sullivan
Julie Ann Russell
Ireland's Senior Women began their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Finland at Tallaght Stadium tonight.
A wickedly-deflected cross by defender Emma Koivisto on 13 minutes was added to by Linda Sallstrom’s header midway through the second half. Ireland had a number of opportunities to score throughout but were kept out by a combination of poor finishing and solid goalkeeping.
With just Dora Gorman and Fiona O’Sullivan missing, manager Sue Ronan picked a strong starting XI and Shelbourne winger Katie McCabe, who celebrates her 20th birthday today, earned her first senior cap.
Finland started strongly and Louis Quinn had to make a timely interception to snuff out Linda Sallstrom before Emmi Alanen sent a shot over the bar from distance.
Ireland began to find their feet and UCD Waves attacker Julie-Ann Russell had a bit of joy on the right flank — her good work leading to a wayward strike by Niamh Fahey.
Denis O’Sullivan was gifted a golden opportunity on 12 minutes when she read a loose pass from Anna Westerlund, but with just goalkeeper Tinja-Riika Korpela to beat, the Glasgow City striker shot wide.
Moments later, the visitors went ahead in fortuitous circumstances. Full-back Koivisto looked to send a cross into the box but it clipped the back of Sophie Perry to dip under Emma Byrne’s crossbar and into the net.
Byrne then had to be at her best to prevent Annika Kukkonen’s volley from outside the box sailing in. And the Arsenal stopper was again called into action on 33 minutes when she came rushing out off her line to smother the ball when Adelina Engman appeared to be through.
Late in the half, McCabe, who alternated between both wings and centre forward on the night, played an inch-perfect pass to O’Gorman and her low cross reached Russell but the Finnish defence somehow kept the ball out.
An injury to Megan Campbell just before the break saw Ruesha Littlejohn come on in her place and heavy rainfall during the interval meant playing conditions were significantly worse in the second half.
O’Sullivan laid the ball off to Littlejohn on 56 minutes and the substitute brought a superb save out of Korpela in the Finland goal. Ireland enjoyed their best period of possession shortly afterwards, which eventually saw O’Sullivan head just wide.
However, it was Finland who doubled their lead on 71 minutes as Linda Sallstrom met a corner to head past Byrne at her near post.
Ronan threw on Siobhan Killeen and Stephanie Roche in place of Russell and O’Gorman in the closing stages but it was Diane Caldwell who had their final shot on goal, which rattled the sidenetting.
Finland go top of Group 2 with six points from two matches, while next up for Ireland is Portugal away on 27 October.
IRELAND: Byrne (c), De Burca, Quinn, Campbell (Littlejohn 42′), Perry, Caldwell, Fahey, O’Sullivan, Russell (Killeen 73′), O’Gorman (Roche 73′), McCabe.
FINLAND: Korpela (c), Koivisto, Westerfund, Hyyrynen, Mattsson, Heroum, Kukkonen, Alanen, Kuikka, Sallstrom, Engman (Kemppi 87′).
Referee: Jana Adamkova.