Release Date: 06/03/2013
NORTHERN Ireland suffered a 5-1 defeat to Republic of Ireland in their opening game of the Cyprus Cup.
Alfie Wylie's young side started the game brightly and forced their opponents to pass the ball along the back line for the first five minutes of the game with Shepherd, Lennon and Caldwell exerting themselves in the central midfield area.
Gradually the Republic came into the game and scored their first goal in the 10th minute following a corner.
Undeterred by the goal, our girls continued to work hard with Magill leading the charge as the lone NI striker.
In the 25th minute ROI added to their tally when NI conceded a second goal from a corner. Northern Ireland enjoyed a positive spell of football following the goal with Magill causing the Republic of Ireland back line problems.
Northern Ireland restarted the game positively with several encouraging periods of attack.
All over the pitch the girls were working hard and competing for the ball, but unfortunately they just couldn't find the crucial pass in the final third of the pitch.
In the 58th minute Alana McShane marked her senior debut with a goal when she pounced on a dropped ball in the penalty area.
Northern Ireland were now in the ascendency, but against the run of play the Republic of Ireland got a free kick on the edge of the box which they converted to make it 1-3.
Despite this the NI girls continued to push forward but were caught with a sucker punch when a long ball over the top of the defence caused confusion in the NI goal mouth allowing the oncoming Republic of Ireland player to poke the ball into the empty net.
In the 93rd minute, having made four changes, NI conceded a fifth goal when the defence failed to deal with a cross into the box.
The score line of 5-1 did not reflect the competitive spirit of the NI performance and commenting after the game Wylie was keen to highlight the positives from the game;
"Obviously we are disappointed with the score line, but the girls worked extremely hard throughout the entire match.
"If you take into account that this was our first competitive game since September 2012 when we played Belgium the levels of fitness of our players was very good.
"We had fought back into the game at 2-1 and were in the ascendency, but two defensive lapses put the game beyond our reach.
"The fifth goal in the 93rd minute did not reflect the play and effort from the girls against a very good Republic of Ireland side.
"A positive from the game was that four players made their international debuts tonight, with Alana McShane capping off a great performance with her first senior goal. Other players making their first NI appearance Kelly Gallagher, Lynda Shepherd and Laura Rafferty.
"The Republic of Ireland recently played the United States in preparation for this tournament and it was noticeable that their players are currently participating in their leagues, whereas our players are involved in pre-season."
Northern Ireland's next game is against South Korea on Friday 8th March (5.30pm local time).
Northern Ireland: Higgins, Hurst, Nelson, McShane, Vance, Caldwell, Shepherd, Stephens, Lennon, Callaghan, Magill subs Gallagher (replaced Callaghan 73), McDowell (replaced Lennon 80), Rafferty (replaced Shepherd 80), Carson (replaced Stephens 86), Armour (not used), McDade (not used), Galbraith (not used)
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