Republic of Ireland ended their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 victory over Northern Ireland, two goals each for Player of the Match Leanne Kiernan and skipper Katie McCabe.
It only took Colin Bell’s side three minutes to get on the scoresheet as Diane Caldwell’s lofted 40-yard ball found Kiernan who chipped the ball neatly over keeper Jacqueline Burns.
Northern Ireland struggled to settle with the pace of Kiernan and the strength of Rianna Jarrett up front, and with 11 minutes gone, Ireland doubled their lead. Kiernan stretched the Northern Ireland defence down the right before Tyler Toland’s long-range was parried and after Jarrett’s neat lay-off, Katie McCabe powered the ball home.
The Tallaght Stadium crowd were treated to a third goal in the first 30 minutes when Kiernan notched her second of the game. Jarrett was once again involved as she found Denise O’Sullivan who found the perfect pass to Kiernan and the striker finished with aplomb.
The hosts sealed their fourth win in the group in the second-half, as Harriet Scott latched onto an O’Sullivan through-ball before keeper Burns conceded a 56th-minute penalty. Captain McCabe stepped up to score her second of the game, the spot-kick neatly placed to the keeper’s right.
Republic of Ireland head coach Colin Bell told fai.ie: “It was a fantastic performance. To get goals like that in the opening stages of the game really settled us and I was extremely happy with the quality of the finishing tonight.
“Leanne Kiernan is beginning to really show what she can do. Her pace will always get her in threatening positions but it’s always been about her using those positions well. Her progression in the past year has been fantastic, all the hard work put in at Shelbourne Ladies and now, West Ham, it is paying off.”
While Northern Ireland complete their campaign on Tuesday against Slovakia at Shamrock Park in Portadown (7.30pm), next up for the Republic of Ireland is a friendly match in Poland on 9 October.
Republic of Ireland: Amanda Budden, Heather Payne, Harriet Scott, Louise Quinn, Niamh Fahey, Diane Caldwell, Leanne Kiernan, Denise O’Sullivan, Katie McCabe (captain), Tyler Toland, Rianna Jarrett.
Substitutes: (used) Karen Duggan, Jessica Ziu, Amber Barrett; (not used) Grace Moloney, Aine O’Gorman, Claire O’Riordan,
Northern Ireland: Jacqueline Burns, Billie Simpson, Jessica Foy, Laura Rafferty, Julie Nelson, Kerry Montgomery, Marissa Callaghan (captain), Caragh Milligan, Simone Magill, Sarah McFadden, Lauren Wade.
Substitutes: (used) Megan Bell, Rebecca McKenna, Freya Holdaway; (not used) Emma Higgins, Catherine Hyndman, Louise McDaniel, Emma McMaster.