By Damien Dunne
Damien Dunne reports on Ireland’s record breaking 11-0 win over Georgia at Tallaght Stadium.
Ireland strolled past a hapless Georgia at Tallaght Stadium last week, setting a new goal scoring record in the process. Eleven goals were scored on a breezy evening in Tallaght, as the girls in green put in a convincing performance that leaves them second in the World Cup Qualifying group, behind favourites Sweden.
A strong performance was required after Ireland’s previous match against Slovakia only resulted in a disappointing draw at home. Ireland manager Vera Pauw made a number of changes to the starting eleven ahead of the match.
An own goal got the ball rolling for Ireland in the fourth minute, and from there Ireland simply couldn’t be stopped. Carusa, Quinn and O’Sullivan added to the goal tally in the first half.
O’Sullivan netted another two goals in the second half, and in doing so she became Ireland’s second highest all-time goal scorer. The midfielder got to take the match ball home after her hat-trick performance, this won’t be a game that she or her teammates will forget anytime soon.
In the second half, Ireland skipper Katie McCabe bagged a brace, while Noonan, Barrett and Connolly helped Ireland to surpass the 10-goal mark. The game was made more difficult for the Georgians when Bebia, the scorer of the own goal, was sent off in the 69th minute adding to the away side’s woes.
It wasn’t just on-pitch records that were set, RTÉ’s TV audience peaked at 340,000 which is the highest ever for the Irish women’s national team.
Ireland captain Katie McCabe was named as the player of the match, the Arsenal forward tweeted after the game, labelling the incredible victory as a “historic end to the year”.
The 3,523 fans in Tallaght were rewarded for braving the elements with a goal count exceeding double figures, one of those fans was President Michael D Higgins.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw told the media after the game that she was “so proud, and the game plan was executed incredibly”. She added that while she was happy to see her side win, the Ireland coach feels UEFA must consider reintroducing a two-tier system again “to stop the top-level countries drifting away from the rest”.
Ireland signed off the year in style, the Girls in Green will now be hoping to carry this level of performance into the remaining qualifying matches, with the dream of qualifying for a first World Cup very much alive.
Ireland’s next two games are both away, with a difficult trip to Sweden on the cards in April, followed by a visit to Georgia in June. Then, the final two fixtures are a home clash with Finland and an away match in Slovakia, those games are scheduled to take place next September.