After producing a couple of magic moments for Irish women’s football in their World Cup qualification campaign to date, Áine O’Gorman wants the team to deliver a meteoric one in the Norwegian coastal city of Stavanger this evening.
The Colin Bell era, thus far characterised by defensive nous, will need a spark at the other end as only victory against top seeds Norway will avoid their hopes of a play-off disappearing with the concluding qualifier against Northern Ireland in late August still to play.
O’Gorman, the Peamount United player, will earn her 100th cap and it will need something similar to John O’Shea’s last-gasp equaliser in Gelsenkirchen almost four years on his century appearance for Ireland’s plight to be rescued.
That Ireland are embarking on this most daunting of challenges without FAI Player of the Year Harriet Scott and defensive mainstay Diane Caldwell only deepens the task at the 16,000 all-seater Viking Stadium.
If last November’s 0-0 draw against recently-crowned European champions Netherlands signalled a watershed for the side, then they’ve to surpass that by beating a Norway side that is finally clicking after a slow start to the campaign.
The Dutch and Norway are on course to seal the top-two places unless Ireland inflict an upset this evening.
O’Gorman is the longest-serving player is a survivor of five previous campaigns and believes there’s still time to create history in this one.
“Although Norway are strong, they have weakness we can exploit. Just because of the situation we’re in doesn’t mean our philosophy will change.
“Colin will have us well organised to hit Norway on the counter-attack. With players like Leanne Kiernan up front, given her lightning pace, we can get at them.
“A lot of changed in the set-up since I made my debut at 16 against Denmark. We’re much better set up, everybody knows their jobs and we’ll be ready for this challenge.
While there is a deluge of injury problems, one bit of solace did arrive yesterday. Louise Quinn looked a certainty to miss the rematch after being taken off with a broken nose on Friday. The Arsenal defender, however, will wear a protective mask in the match after coming through yesterday’s final training sessions without any problems.
“As soon as the incident happened in the match, Louise wanted to get back on the pitch but we had to keep her off,” said Bell.
“It shows the passion and determination the players have for this team. They want to succeed and that’s fantastic for me to see.”
M Hourihan (Manchester City); A O’Gorman (Peamount Utd), S Perry-Campbell (Brighton & Hove Albion), N Fahey (Bordeaux), L Quinn (Arsenal) K Duggan (Peamount Utd); T Toland (Maiden City), M Connolly (Florida State Seminoles); L Kiernan (Shelbourne), D O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), K McCabe (Arsenal); A Barrett (Peamount Utd).
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