‘Momentum and conviction are with us now’ – Irish players react to World Cup qualifying victory over Finland
As all three Irish free Amigos rallied around their 10th-minute free kick, it took them almost a minute to decide on their best option.
I was yelling at Megan to take this for free, ”O’Sullivan later reports.
Megan Connolly had only scored once in 30 appearances dating back five years, but, even as Lucy Quinn, an Arsenal sharpshooter and recent free-kick scorer on her debut, was soaring, the wife of Brighton had only one thing in mind.
“Katie (McCabe) can shoot free kicks with her eyes closed, but from that angle we just thought it would suit a right foot,” she beamed.
“I don’t want to give away my secrets too much. Katie, Lucy and I were standing above, assessing where the wall was.
“We were supporting each other no matter what, but Katie asked me ‘What do you want?’ Once the guard and the wall were up, I believed at that moment to say: “I’ll take it”. “Lucy scored against Australia, but I didn’t give her the chance.
“This angle was activated at the start. Lucy said the far pole was on but I said I would buckle it up. These are the most difficult, getting the ball over the wall in the upper corner. I tried it several times and it didn’t work. I just logged in as best I could.
“I’ve had a few in big Irish games and it hasn’t worked. I was only telling Rianna Barrett this morning that I have one in 30 and now I have two in 31.
“As a midfielder I tried to score goals, but as a sitting midfielder you are not going to advance, so it came from a set piece.”
Ireland held on to a deserved lead until a controversial 51st minute equalizer from Adelina Engman, who fouled McCabe moments earlier, forcing the skipper to retire after receiving treatment and leaving his flank exposed as the Finns created the goal at the bottom right.
However, Denise O’Sullivan appeared with the winner just four minutes later after a raging run and cross from Heather Payne.
“I was right on the right side, near the goal and I just said I would take him, whip him into the box because I knew we had players up front,” Payne said.
“You just hit the back post and Denise came to the end. It is sometimes hard chasing balls but sometimes it pays off, I got to the end of that ball and played it against Denise.”
“Dee’s goal held us back because you could hear their crowd building up,” Connolly added. “They had the momentum and we caught them on the back foot.”
“It was a tough game, everyone had to put in a shift. We all worked extremely hard. Hard work but there was a payoff in the end.
“We knew we had to win this game. It was such an important game. On the road it was even bigger.
“They are the second seed in the group, it was our most important victory so far.”
O’Sullivan had been uncertain for this game after receiving an elbow kick in last week’s loss to Sweden, but an exam cleared her for the task and she reveled of an itinerant role on the left side.
“It wasn’t pretty but we’ll come home happy with the points,” said O’Sullivan, whose US club North Carolina Courage is currently embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal.
“We scored some good goals. We were calm sometimes, we could have done better with the ball but we still have a few games to level up.
“My arm was kicked on the ground and I couldn’t move it, but the scan was important and I was happy to be able to come back and help the girls. “
This important declaration is now due to be drawn up next month when Slovakia and Georgia visit Dublin next month.
“We midfielders are proud to be tough to beat,” says Connolly, “We had to work from the first to the last minute, crossing to keep them from making their way through. Jamie and Denise have me made the task easier.
“The game against Sweden gave us real confidence and it showed tonight that we have been courageous in stepping up our efforts. In the end, we had to stand up for our lives.
“It’s a huge three points before next camp because Finland will definitely be ranked above us.
“It’s one game at a time. We have seen all the teams in the group so after beating Finland we have to prepare to do justice against Slovakia.
“Momentum and conviction are with us now. Presumably they carry the two with confidence.